Taxpayers paid for armed, plain-clothes Los Angeles police officers to accompany U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) to public events and media appearances, KNBC-TV reported.
How much was spent?
The TV station obtained records showing expenses that include airline tickets, hotel stays, car rentals, and meals. The total cost reached beyond $28,000, without including the officers' overtime.
Although the Los Angeles Police Department regularly provides security for security for dignitaries and other officials in the city, extending that role to a senator traveling to other cities is “unprecedented,” the report stated.
Mayor Eric Garcetti's office reportedly said the Mayor was unaware of the arrangement, which was shut down in July 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 a statement to the TV station.
Garcetti indicated 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," LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein told the news outlet. "Funding for the detail was provided by the Department budget."
Beck's signature is on many of the LAPD documents authorizing the trips. One of them happened just 10 days after Harris was sworn-in to the Senate. Under that trip, two officers flew with Harris to a retirement event for a California Department of Justice official, the report stated.
What were some of the trips?
Records between Jan. 2017 and July 2018 revealed that officers flew to San Francisco at least seven times, including a trip in April 2017, when Harris gave TV interviews. Also included is 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. Video and pictures of the parade show LAPD officers along the parade route.
Additionally, officers traveled to Sacramento, Fresno, and San Diego for Harris. The officers’ use and the purpose of the trips was confirmed by Harris' office, according to the report.
"Since she became a protectee more than a decade ago, Senator Harris has always deferred to public safety experts on procedures, protocols and determinations," Harris' communications director Lily Adams told the TV station. "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.”
A decision to stop the out-of-town security program for Harris was made close to the time the Los Angeles Times filed a lawsuit to compel Mayor Eric Garcetti to hand over records about taxpayer expenses related to his own security detail during “extensive out-of-state travels,” according to the report. Both City Hall and the LAPD had refused to release the documents under a routine open records request.
Prior to becoming a senator, Harris had served as the district attorney of the city and county of San Francisco.