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Gray security costs D.C. taxpayers $1m

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Photo - A review of public records by the Washington Examiner shows that D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray's security detail cost taxpayers close to $1 million during his first year in office. (Examiner file photo)
A review of public records by the Washington Examiner shows that D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray's security detail cost taxpayers close to $1 million during his first year in office. (Examiner file photo)
Local,DC,Alan Blinder

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray's security detail cost taxpayers close to $1 million during his first year in office, a Washington Examiner review of public records shows.

As mayor, Gray receives protection from the Metropolitan Police Department when he is in the D.C. area. According to records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, MPD assigned or temporarily detailed 12 employees -- including a lieutenant, a sergeant and a detective -- to Gray's security team.

The officers who staff the executive protection unit earn a combined salary of $951,138 annually, along with benefits, and overtime costs added about $25,000 in expenses last year.

He's not alone
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray isn't the only local leader to have a security detail.
Although Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett drew criticism in the past for a $360,000 security detail of four people, his spokesman said Thursday that the team had dwindled to two. The cost of maintaining the detail was not immediately available. Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker also has a security team, but police spokeswoman Julie Parker declined to reveal its size. Parker said taxpayers spend about $400,000 a year on the officers' salaries.
In Virginia, most local leaders have said they don't receive any police protection.

Citing a longstanding policy of not discussing the mayor's security detail, Gray spokesman Pedro Ribeiro declined to comment.

City leaders have long defended the need for an expansive mayoral security detail.

"As an elected executive of the government of the nation's capital, the mayor of the District of Columbia is an attractive target for threats," then-D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles wrote in 2009. "For his personal safety, as well as the interests of the city and the nation, it is important to provide adequate security."

The size of the mayoral security detail has fallen sharply in recent years. In 2006, then-Mayor Anthony Williams had 18 people assigned to guard him, a figure that declined during the tenure of Mayor Adrian Fenty.

Although the size of the executive protection detail hasn't changed since Gray took office in January 2011, its travel expenses have all but disappeared.

In 2010, the city spent $11,586 to have security personnel accompany Fenty, who did not respond to a request for comment, on six trips to four states.

But in 2011, records show, police officers didn't travel with Gray when he ventured beyond the D.C. metro area. And when Gray visited China earlier this summer, he traveled without a security detail.

The city also spent far less to enhance security at Gray's house in Ward 7 than it did to improve protection at Fenty's Ward 4 homestead.

District records show that the city paid $99,840 for security upgrades at Fenty's home. The expenses included more than $74,000 for installation and equipment from ADT Security and $6,500 for a guard booth.

When Fenty left office, the city spent $7,580 to restore his property to its original state, including $1,255 for landscaping.

Kristopher Baumann, the leader of the city's police union, also said the District detailed six additional officers who weren't part of the executive protection unit to guard Fenty's home, quietly adding to security costs.

To the east in Ward 7, taxpayers doled out $62,407.21 to pay for security enhancements at Gray's home, including $21,423 for equipment and a $6,500 fence, a 37 percent dip from the Fenty years.

The District did not disclose whether any patrol officers are permanently assigned to Gray's home, and Ribeiro declined to say if the mayor has an arrangement similar to Fenty's.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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