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Mendelson finally gets response on Fenty security detail

When a WTOP radio story revealed that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) used police escorts on some of his bike rides, D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At large) wrote a letter to D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles wanting to know more about how police resources are used to protect the mayor.

No go, Nickels wrote back. "Given the security and privacy issues involved, it is not appropriate to reply specifically to your questions," Nickles wrote in a Dec. 9 letter, assuring Mendelson that the security was appropriate and legal, not overzealous.

Dissatisfied, Mendelson, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, was prepared to invoke subpoena power to get the answers. But Nickles then pledged he'd send a fuller response. It took two weeks, but this afternoon Nickles gave more detail about how the mayor is kept out of harm's way.

In a letter and attachments, Nickles reveals the following: the unit that protects Fenty works in eight-hour shifts and has either Friday and Saturday, or Sunday and Monday as days off. It consists of one lieutenant, at least one sergeant and several officers. In fact, the total number of people in the unit has decreased from 18, when Fenty first got into office, to its present strength of 10 members -- staffing changes likely related to Fenty's decision to drive himself around the District.

The specifics for how, when and whether the Mayor gets a security detail is something that the mayor decides in consultation with D.C. police, Nickles said. "However, it is important to note that, at all times, he is accompanied by appropriate security, whether or not they are visible."

Nickles demurred on how much the security costs ("we cannot provide specifics") but said that since Fenty's inauguration, "the cost...has been lower than for prior Mayors."

And as for the original issue that sparked the inquiry, that the mayor's security detail disregarded traffic laws while on duty? "To the extent there may have been a violation, the Mayor expresses his sincere regret," Nickles wrote.

--Theola Labbé-DeBose

By Theola Labbé-DeBose  |  December 23, 2009; 6:30 PM ET
Categories:  The District , Theola Labbé-DeBose  
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