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New Chicago mayor doesn’t want Chicago police to protect her ‘because it’s a very dangerous time in our country’
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New Chicago mayor doesn’t want Chicago police to protect her ‘because it’s a very dangerous time in our country’

This is the first time in history something like this has happened

Newly elected Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot — the first African-American female to serve as Chicago mayor — does not want the Chicago Police Department to protect her.

Instead, she's opting for private security, breaking an age-old tradition of the city police heading up protection detail for the mayor.

What are the details?

Lightfoot hired a private company to oversee her security detail, noting that "it's a very dangerous time" in the U.S.

Retired Deputy U.S. Marshal James Smith will head up the mayor's security detail. Smith is also a managing partner at Silver Star Protection Group, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Smith retired from the U.S. Marshals after 26 years of service.

According to the Chicago Sun Times, Lightfoot's security detail will be comprised of "four or five" retired law enforcement officials from any agency besides the Chicago Police Department.

Lightfoot, who is openly gay, is a former assistant U.S. attorney and was elected in April. She previously co-chaired the city's Task Force on Police Accountability after 2014's fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald. The task force issued a decidedly negative report on the city police, intimating that Chicago police officers had violated civil rights during arrests.

The Sun Times spoke with one of Lightfoot's aides about the move, and when asked if there was a heightened threat level for the mayor, the aide responded, "Just think about it. It's a very dangerous time in our country."

What was the response to this?

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson did not offer specific details on the appointment.

"We don't really comment on executive protection, but at the end of the day, the mayor has to be comfortable with her detail," Johnson said. "This is her police department now."

Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham told the Sun Times that the organization is not pleased with Lightfoot's decision to leave local police out of her security detail.

"For as long as anyone can remember, Chicago Police have provided the security for the mayor of this city," Graham said. "They have done an outstanding job, no matter who was the mayor."

He added, "Those jobs are done by the Chicago Police officers, and we at the FOP intend to keep it that way."

Additionally, The Chicago Tribune reported that Smith is married to a corporate lobbyist who lobbies the mayor's office.

During her campaign, Lightfoot pledged to end the "influence of political insiders at City Hall," according to the outlet.

The outlet reached out to the lobbying firm, Houlihan-Smith on Tuesday, but the company declined to elaborate on how Smith and his wife plan to keep their mayoral affiliations separate.

A spokesperson for the mayor did not comment on whether it was appropriate for her security detail to be married to a corporate lobbyist.

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