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Mayors in 20 cities that call to defund the police get millions in public funds for private security

At least 20 mayors from cities that have called to defund the police enjoy the perks of private security at a cost to taxpayers of millions of dollars a year. 

In February, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced plans to redirect $120 million from the police department to a combination of new and existing programs. 

Meanwhile, the city spent $2.6 million to protect her in 2020, a number that will likely increase this year.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed (left) and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot benefit from taxpayer-funded private security as they cut funding from their cities' police departments

Cities where taxpayers' money funds police details or private security for officials 

San Francisco - $2.6 million in 2020 for Mayor London Breed

Chicago - $3.4 million in 2020 for 'unnamed city officials'

Baltimore - $3.6 million in 2020 for Mayor Brandon Scott and two others

New York City -  $358,000 in 2020 for Mayor Bill de Blasio's failed presidential run 

San Diego - $2.6 million in 2021 for Mayor Todd Gloria, city council meetings and for building security

Denver - $746,743 in 2020 for Mayor Michael Hancock 

The dichotomous combination of public officials calling to defund the police while spending millions to protect themselves only appears in cities with Democratic mayors. 

San Francisco spent $12.4 million to protect Breed between 2015 and 2020, with the bill rising from $1.7 million in 2015 to $2.6 million last year, according to information obtained by public transparency website Openthebooks.com and compiled by Forbes.

Part of the redirected funds will go toward a guaranteed income program, community outreach, youth development and arts and culture programs, according to KQED. 

'I want to change the outcome of African Americans in the city who are disproportionately impacted in the criminal justice system, disproportionately impacted by homelessness and a number of other disparities, even in our public school system,' Breed said when announcing the budget changes in February. 

'And I wanted to make sure that these investments were going to make a difference.' 

The movement to defund the police picked up steam during last year's protests following the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

On his Fox News show Sunday night, former US Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina slammed freshman Democratic Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri for openly calling to defund the police while spending $69,120 in campaign funds on personal 'security services' from April 15 to June 28.

Democratic Rep. Cori Bush was criticized by former Rep. Trey Gowdy for calling to defund the police while spending $69,120 on personal 'security services' from April 15 to June 28

Protesters hung sings calling to defund the police at City Hall Park in New York in June 2020

'She wants to defund your police, but not her police,' the host said. 

Some members of the Democratic Party, including party stalwarts like former President Barack Obama and House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina, have cautioned against using the divisive slogan 'defund the police,' arguing that it drives voters away. 

Other officials whose positions seem at odds with their practices include Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Lightfoot does not support defunding the police, though she eliminated three percent of the department's budget largely by getting rid of vacant positions, according to the Chicago Tribune.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio's (left) presidential bid left taxpayers with a $358K bill, while San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria's $4.3M cut to police overtime didn't include his $2.6M in security 

She poured $626.5 million into extra pay for police and firefighters last year amid Black Lives Matter protests, but payroll data shows the number of police officers in the city dropped by nearly 400. 

Meanwhile, the city spent $17.3 million between 2015 and 2020 to guard 'unnamed city officials,' including $3.4 million for 22 security officers last year.

The city has seen a double-digit increase in homicide since. 

In New York City, the city council slashed $1 billion from the police department even though Mayor Bill de Blasio, along with his wife and son, travel with a New York Police Department security detail.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (left) was protected with $746,743 in private security in 2020, while Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, who called a $22M police cut 'just the beginning,' got $3.6M in security coverage along with two other colleagues

His failed 2020 presidential run also cost taxpayer $358,000. 

The NYPD did not respond to Forbes' requests for a more detailed breakdown of costs. 

Last year, the Baltimore City Council voted to eliminate $22 million from the police budget, according to the Baltimore Sun.

'This is just the beginning, and I intend to continue leading this process to redirect our public dollars and reimagine public safety in Baltimore,' said then-City Council President Brandon Scott, now the city's mayor.

At the same time, the city spent $3.6 million on 14 police to cover the Scott, State Attorney Marilyn Mosby and Police Commissioner Michael Harrison.

In San Diego, Mayor Todd Gloria's increased police budget has frustrated activists who thought a Democratic mayor would be on their side to defund the police.

His latest budget calls for a $4.3 million cut to overtime and $1 million for a new police oversight body, according to Voice of San Diego.

It also budgeted $2.6 million for 12 full-time officers to protect him.

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