NYPD Commissioner Warns Trump Tower Security Costing City More Than $150K Per Day

Police Commissioner James O'Neill with Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Police Commissioner James O’Neill with Mayor Bill de Blasio. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill sent a letter imploring the local delegation to the House and Senate to get the city reimbursed for its ongoing protection of President Donald Trump‘s eponymous tower—estimating the perimeter around the Fifth Avenue Xanadu currently costs his department anywhere from $127,000 to $146,000 a day, and the FDNY an average of $4.5 million annually so long as members of the First Family remain in the building.

O’Neill addressed his message to Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and 17 representatives from the five boroughs and the surrounding suburbs, ranging from Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey of Westchester to Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin of Suffolk County. The letter reiterates the city’s longstanding plea for compensation, citing a situation “unique in recent history.”

“Immediately after the presidential election of 2016, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) was tasked with the unique and unparalleled challenge of protecting the president-elect and First Family in a shared-occupancy building in the center of the nation’s largest city,” O’Neill wrote. “The NYPD now serves a dual role in protecting the First Family and securing Trump Tower while simultaneously acting as a municipal police department charged with serving and protecting the millions of residents, visitors, and workers in the city.”

O’Neill also noted that the president’s continued ownership of the building has marked it as a prime site for potential violence by extremists.

“Trump Tower itself now presents a target to those who wish to commit acts of terror against our country, further straining our limited counterterrorism resources,” the commissioner wrote.

The letter recalls that the city sent a $35 million bill to Washington last December for the costs of protecting the then-president-elect and his loved ones for the two months-plus between the election and the inauguration—but Congress approved only a $7 million reimbursement. Several of the representatives O’Neill appealed to, including Manhattan Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Bronx Congressman Jose Serrano, have sent letters of their own to the Republican House and Senate leadership pleading for a full repayment.

Mayor Bill de Blasio reported prior to the inauguration that Trump had personally promised to work to get the city indemnified for its security around the skyscraper.

O’Neill’s message downwardly revises the $35 million to $25.7 million. The commissioner also noted that the president’s decampment to D.C. has cut the daily cost of shielding Trump Tower by as much as $200,000.

But the decision of First Lady Melania Trump to remain there with their son Barron for the five months between the inauguration and the end of the school year has forced the NYPD and FDNY to continue to deploy heavy protective forces to the area. O’Neill repeated his warning, made several times in recent months, that the continued effort draws crucial resources from police precincts across the city.

And he asserted that planned presidential visits to the city will send the daily cost for the NYPD back up over $300,000 a day.

“As we continue to manage the new reality of protecting the president, his family, and Trump Tower, funding will be critical to ensure New York City can allocate the personnel and resources that are necessary to keep the city and all its residents safe,” the letter reads. “Approval of the above request will allow New York City to accomplish this essential dual mission of securing a presidential residence while protecting and serving the millions of Americans who live in, work in, and visit our great city.”

Left unmentioned in the missive is the possibility that Trump’s executive order severing federal funding to so-called “sanctuary cities” like New York could undermine outlays for the NYPD that pay for protecting the building. In spite of that, de Blasio has pledged not to remove the police perimeter around the building in retaliation, though he has threatened a lawsuit should Washington cut off any allocation for the five boroughs.

Read O’Neill’s letter in its entirety below:

Dear New York City area Members,

I am writing to request reimbursement for the cost associated with securing Trump Tower during the presidential transition, and to appropriate funds for the ongoing mission of securing the secondary residence of the president and the primary residence of his family.

Immediately after the presidential election of 2016, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) was tasked with the unique and unparalleled challenge of protecting the president-elect and First Family in a shared-occupancy building in the center of the nation’s largest city. Trump Tower, a 58-story mixed-use building in midtown Manhattan, is located along a highly trafficked corridor of Fifth Avenue in a dense urban environment that comprises large hotels, world renowned department stores, and some of the city’s most iconic tourist attractions. Such a setting for the second residence of an American president is unique in recent history.

The NYPD now serves a dual role in protecting the First Family and securing Trump Tower while simultaneously acting as a municipal police department charged with serving and protecting the millions of residents, visitors, and workers in the city. Moreover, Trump Tower itself now presents a target to those who wish to commit acts of terror against our country, further straining our limited counterterrorism resources.

In December of 2016, initial estimates put the cost of this protective mission at up to $35 million for the period of time from Election Day to Inauguration Day. After an extensive analysis of payrolls, overtime sheets, and over 25,000 individual patrol log entries, New York has determined that the NYPD’s security operations for those seventy-five days totaled $24 million. The average daily rate throughout this entire period was $308,000. The average through December 20th was $334,000. After December 20th, based on more detailed information of security needs and approaching the end of the holidays, deployment was decreased and the average daily rate was $275,000.

Securing Trump Tower and the area around it also required dedicated resources from other city agencies. For example, the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) has reallocated resources and personnel to the ongoing security effort. The FDNY, including the Emergency Medical Services division, has incurred $1.7 million in personnel costs for 24-hour dedicated operations at Trump Tower during the above listed time period. These additional expenditures demonstrate the broad and evolving set of tasks city agencies perform in order to provide the required presidential-level security. These costs bring the total amount expended by FDNY and NYPD to protect Trump Tower and the First Family to $25.7 million from Election Day through the inauguration.

As we continue to manage the new reality of protecting the president, his family, and Trump Tower, funding will be critical to ensure New York City can allocate the personnel and resources that are necessary to keep the city and all its residents safe. To that end, we estimate that New York City will spend an average of $127,000 to $146,000 a day for the NYPD and $4.5 million annually for FDNY to protect the First Lady and her son while they reside in Trump Tower after the inauguration. We anticipate these costs will increase significantly whenever the president is in New York City. For the NYPD, costs are estimated to rise to an average daily rate of $308,000 during presidential visits to New York City.

Approval of the above request will allow New York City to accomplish this essential dual mission of securing a presidential residence while protecting and serving the millions of Americans who live in, work in, and visit our great city.

Sincerely,

James P. O’Neill

Police Commissioner

NYPD Commissioner Warns Trump Tower Security Costing City More Than $150K Per Day