Armed, plain-clothes LAPD officers were dispatched to California cities outside of Los Angeles at least a dozen times to provide security for US Senator Kamala Harris at public events, media appearances, and a party.
LA taxpayers paid for airline tickets, hotel stays, car rentals, and meals, according to detailed expense reports obtained by NBC News. The total cost of the trips, not including the officers’ overtime, topped $28,000.
The LAPD routinely provides security for dignitaries and officials visiting LA, but a senior retired department official said the courtesy extended to Sen. Harris for her travels to other cities was unprecedented.
Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office said the Mayor was, “unaware,” of this unusual arrangement until July, when it was shut down by new LAPD Chief Michel Moore.
“It was not until Chief Moore was sworn in, conducted a new assessment of the threat, determined that this arrangement was no longer needed, and informed Mayor Garcetti, that the mayor became aware of the state-wide detail,” Garcetti spokesman Alex Comisar wrote in an email Wednesday.
Garcetti said former LAPD Chief Charlie Beck was solely responsible for the program.
“Chief of Police Charlie Beck assigned a security detail for US Senator Kamala Harris shortly before she was sworn into office in 2017, based on a threat assessment he believed to be credible,” said LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein. “Funding for the detail was provided by the Department budget.”
Beck’s signature appears on many of the LAPD documents authorizing the trips, including one that occured just 10 days after Harris was sworn-in to the Senate, in which two officers flew to Oakland to go with Harris to a, “retirement event,” for a California Department of Justice official.
NBC4 asked LAPD to contact Beck for comment. No response had been received at the time of publication.
Between January 2017 and July 2018 the records show LAPD officers flew to San Francisco at least seven times, including a trip in April 2017, when Harris gave TV interviews, a trip in March 2018 for a speech at a YMCA event, and a visit in June 2018, to escort Harris to the San Francisco Pride parade, where LAPD officers were visible in video and pictures captured along the parade route.
Officers also traveled to Sacramento, Fresno, and San Diego for Harris. The use of the officers and the purpose of the trips were confirmed by Harris’ office.
“Since she became a protectee more than a decade ago, Senator Harris has always deferred to public safety experts on procedures, protocols and determinations,” said Harris’ communications director Lily Adams. “Our office did not request or question LAPD’s decision to provide protection and we are grateful for the ongoing work of officers in Los Angeles and across the state who risk their lives to keep all Californians safe,” she said.
The decision to end the out-of-town security program for Harris was made around the time the Los Angeles Times filed a lawsuit that demanded Mayor Eric Garcetti turn over records detailing the taxpayer expense of his own security detail during his extensive out-of-state travels, after both City Hall and the LAPD refused to release the documents through a routine California Public Records Act request.
“Unfortunately we are not able to give out this information, as it could potentially undermine the Mayor’s safety and security,” LAPD spokesman Rubenstein wrote in an email to the Los Angeles Times that was cited in the newspaper’s lawsuit.
The Times’ lawsuit claims there is no portion of the Records Act that exempts these expense records from public disclosure.
An attorney for the Times pointed out in a court filing that the US Secret Service has provided information about the cost of travelling security details for both Presidents Trump and Obama, and the cities of Chicago, Baltimore, and Seattle have all produced similar mayoral expense records for public review.
Photo Credit: AP Photo
Source: NBC Los Angeles