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Daley to lose half his bodyguards

10-19-10 Mayor Richard M. Daley  arrives Marshall HS  before he takes part Marshall High School campus park ribbon-cutting.

10-19-10 Mayor Richard M. Daley arrives at Marshall HS before he takes part in the Marshall High School campus park ribbon-cutting. He was asked about his wife Maggie's getting released from a hospital after their trip to Washington D.C. He dedicated the new 10 million rehabbed football field , track running course and revamped sports complex at Marshall HS. Al Podgorski - Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: November 9, 2011 4:23PM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is cutting in half — from six active-duty Chicago police officers to three — the bodyguard detail that accompanied former Mayor Richard M. Daley into retirement.

Starting Thursday, Daley and his wife, Maggie, will be protected by the scaled-down detail of three active-duty officers, while the other three officers are returned to street duty, sources said Monday.

The new detail will continue to have access to two city vehicles, but only when necessary. When the vehicles are not needed, they will be returned to the Police Department’s motor pool.

Two of the officers will be on call to take Maggie Daley to and from the hospital. Chicago’s former first lady has suffered from a string of recent setbacks in her nearly decade-long battle against metastatic breast cancer.

Weeks before Daley left office, he requested around-the-clock protection by at least five police bodyguards — and at least two vehicles at his disposal — to provide security for himself and his wife in retirement.

After a Secret Service evaluation of Daley’s security needs, Emanuel authorized a six-officer detail and left it untouched even after cutting the security assigned to Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) in half — from four active police officers to two retired ones.

The Burke and Daley bodyguards became a sore point with Chicago taxpayers, who suggested ending both details in ideas posted on a budget website set up by Emanuel.

It also became a flash point for the Fraternal Order of Police after a two-year hiring slowdown that has left the Chicago Police Department more than 2,300 officers-a-day short of authorized strength.

Emanuel’s mandate that Police Supt. Garry McCarthy cut at least $190 million from the Police Department’s $1.3 billion budget — a move that’s likely to force the elimination of 1,400 police vacancies — added further fuel to the fire.

On Monday, Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields criticized Emanuel for not going far enough.

“Will the remaining detail still be making trips to the Daley summer home in Michigan? At some point, Chicago needs to stop treating politicians like royalty. Mayor Daley is a very wealthy man who can afford his own valet service. Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for it,” Shields said.

“Whether it’s 10 or six or three [Daley bodyguards], it’s too many. CPD is down 2,000 officers. We can use every available officer out in the field.”

Better Government Association President and CEO Andy Shaw called the mayor’s move a “good start” that would “save taxpayers money and put more cops on the street.”

“Some people won’t be satisfied until the ex-mayor has no bodyguards. Others will wonder why the ex-mayor isn’t paying for his own security. They’ll point out that he may still be the only ex-mayor in America with police protection,” Shaw said.

Daley has angrily defended his request for around-the-clock bodyguard protection — a courtesy that former Mayor Jane Byrne never received and considers unnecessary.

“There’s been threats all through my career. … The safety of my family comes first,” Daley said, days before leaving office.

“I’ve been mayor for 22 years, and my wife has made a commitment [to the city]. Former mayors received security appropriately. It’s appropriate for every former mayor. Yes, it’s always appropriate.”

Figures released by the Emanuel administration this summer show that Burke’s detail cost Chicago taxpayers nearly $600,000 in 2009.

The highest-paid officer made more than $150,000 that year. The other police officers on Burke’s detail made $147,000, $140,000 and $133,000. A part-time officer got $25,000 that year — for a total of $595,000 in salary and overtime. The total did not include health and pension benefits.

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