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Lori Lightfoot secretly protected by specialist squad of 71 cops

Lori Lightfoot secretly protected by specialist squad of 71 cops


Progressive Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been secretly protected by a specialist squad of more than 70 cops — one set up the same year she pushed to slash $80 million from the police budget, according to reports.

Chicago police’s previously unknown Unit 544 has 65 officers along with five sergeants and a lieutenant assigned to protect the mayor — on top of her personal bodyguard detail of about 20 officers, the Chicago Sun-Times revealed Monday, citing public records.

Also called the Government Security Detail, the unit’s potential recruits were told its “mission will be to provide physical security for City Hall, the mayor’s residence and the mayor’s detail command post,” the paper said.

“Through the coordination of intelligence and resources, officers will respond to all threats related to the mayor’s physical properties to ensure its protection,” a recruitment memo reportedly said.

That memo was sent in July 2020, the year that Lightfoot pushed to slash the police department’s budget by $80 million, axing hundreds of jobs, amid growing calls to defund the police during protests over the murder of George Floyd.

Lightfoot later backtracked, rejecting the call to defund the force and ultimately increasing the budget.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been secretly protected by a specialist squad of more than 70 cops according to new reports.
Pat Nabong/Chicago Sun-Times via AP
Evidence markers sit on the ground outside a pizza shop where seven men were shot.
Evidence markers sit on the ground outside a pizza shop where seven men were shot.
Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune via AP

But critics noted that the secretive police unit was hired at a time of rising complaints over the dwindling presence of patrol officers — ironically partly due to patrols keeping “defund the police” protesters from Lightfoot’s house in Logan Square, the Sun-Times noted.

“While murders are soaring, while districts are barebones for manpower, all that matters is protecting her castle,” John Catanzara, president of Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police, told the Sun-Times.

Lightfoot confirmed the existence of Unit 544, insisting it was set up to cover for the lack of a “unified command” for potential mayoral emergencies.

Police in Chicago
The memo was sent in July 2020, the year that Mayor Lori Lightfoot pushed to slash the police department’s budget by $80 million, axing hundreds of jobs.
Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Chicago Sun-Times via AP
Lori Lightfoot
Lori Lightfoot confirmed the existence of Unit 544, insisting it was set up to cover for the lack of a “unified command” for potential mayoral emergencies.
Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Chicago Sun-Times via AP

“And then obviously, in 2020 in particular, there were a significant amount of protests all over the city, and some of them targeted at my house,” she told the Sun-Times

“All the more reason why having a unified command to understand and share intelligence and be ready to respond if there was any kind of threat was very important,” she said.

That threat became all too real last month when a man angry over parking tickets was busted firing a gun and trying to deliver a letter to her home, the paper noted. Joseph Igartua, 37, is being held without bond on charges of stalking and reckless discharge of a weapon.

A train passes the scene where evidence markers sit on the ground outside a pizza shop where seven men were shot on Chicago’s South Side on March 13, 2022.
A train passes the scene where evidence markers sit on the ground outside a pizza shop where seven men were shot on Chicago’s South Side on March 13, 2022.
Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune via AP
Lori Lightfoot
Critics noted the irony that the secretive police unit was hired due to keeping “defund the police” protesters from Lightfoot’s house.
Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

“I thank God for the police protection that we have, but this one is really unnerving. And scary,” she said.

“When somebody shows up at your house, clearly going through a mental crisis, with a loaded gun, that’s frightening,” Lightfoot said.

“This was real. And it scared us. I’m not gonna lie. It was very, very frightening. So I’m thankful for the quick work of the police department to really protect us against this real threat,” she told the Chicago paper.



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