In the immediate aftermath of the November presidential election, Mayor de Blasio took a wait-and-see approach when asked about how security measures around Trump Tower might impact midtown after Inauguration Day. "I don't think we should pre-judge that," he told reporters that month.
Now, with the inauguration just over a week away, members of the City Council are grilling the NYPD on anticipated overtime costs for police officers stationed in the area. And while NYPD brass refuse to get specific about the number of officers allotted to Trump Tower at any given time, it's clear that police are planning for an exceeded overtime budget.
When New York City asked for $35 million in compensation for Trump Tower security between election and inauguration, the figure was based on a rough calculation of $500,000 for each day that President-elect Trump is in his Midtown suites. With only $7 million currently promised from the federal government, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Management and Budget Vincent Grippo acknowledged during a City Council hearing Tuesday that the NYPD is anticipating costs of $500,000 per day when Trump is in town post-election, as well.
"The bottom line is none of that comes from our existing overtime budget," Grippo said.
— Rosa Goldensohn (@RosaGoldensohn) January 10, 2017
Grippo went on to explain that officers are billing overtime both outside Trump Tower and in precincts across the city. As beat cops are allocated away from other precincts to aid Trump Tower security—often for overtime shifts—their fellow officers in the five boroughs are picking up extra shifts, too. "The city is reliant on overtime to compensate for the lost officer who is now located at Trump Tower," Grippo said.
Grippo promised that "neighborhoods aren't adversely impacted by having fewer people on patrol," adding that "the impact comes on the fiscal side." But repeated attempts for a more itemized rundown of this shift—security costs for Melania Trump when the President isn't in town, for example, or the number of officers pulled from outer borough neighborhoods like Far Rockaway and Brownsville—were repeatedly shot down. Over and over, Deputy Chief James Kehoe dismissed questions as potential security risks.
.@JulissaFerreras: NYPD had overtime cap plan and now "it's completely blown out of the water." Shorter NYPD: Basically yeah.
— Erin Durkin (@erinmdurkin) January 10, 2017
"The mere fact that he won the election put Trump Tower as a security risk," Grippo added. "There will be security when he is in and out, but I can't elaborate on exact figures."
Manhattan Councilmember Dan Garodnick, who has pushed for security adjustments around Trump Tower including the recent traffic-letting on 56th Street, became increasingly frustrated. "How does somebody take that [$500,000 per day] number seriously unless we know how you arrived at it?" he wondered.
Repeated answers for questions they can't answer: "We're in conversation and dialogue with the US Secret Service" & "This is unprecedented"
— Erin Durkin (@erinmdurkin) January 10, 2017
Queens Councilmember Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, chair of the City Council Finance Committee, reminded Grippo of the NYPD's recent commitments to cap overtime spending. A 2015 Independent Budget Office report analyzed shifts in overtime spending between 2006 and 2015, and found a 74 percent increase in the NYPD's overtime expenditures, from $412 million up to $716 million. At the time, the IBO was already skeptical of Mayor de Blasio's instated overtime spending caps for the NYPD—$513 for Fiscal Year 2016, and $454 million for the current Fiscal Year 2017—which he said could be achieved with the addition of 1,300 new police officers.
In March, Copeland will oversee a hearing on the NYPD's budget for the coming fiscal year. "We have to have some idea of what this [security] is going to cost," she admonished Grippo. "Right now we are spending with an unlimited credit, and hoping that the federal government is going to pay. I'm very, very fearful that in a few weeks you will blow out the plan to bring down overtime."
Grippo didn't refute Copeland's prediction, saying that overtime costs would likely run "somewhat north" of $500 to $550 million. "The only option we would have to avoid that is to take reductions in service around the city," he added.
"Tell me what happens if we say we just can't afford it," Copeland asked. "Does the federal government send more Secret Service?"
Grippo wouldn't entertain the possibility, saying the security needs under Trump are "larger than what the Secret Service could provide."
Earlier, Councilmember Garodnick said he'd invited the President-elect, or one of his spokespeople, to testify about the costs to NYC to protect him. None came forward.