Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley proposes using sheriff’s deputy, not private firm, for security detail

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A new Milwaukee County exec means a new security plan for the county’s top official. 

On a 7-0 vote Thursday, the county’s Finance and Audit Committee recommended transferring $112,694 to the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office to provide protection for  County Executive David Crowley for the remainder of the year.

Those funds would cover the salary and benefits for one full-time deputy, plus any other deputies who may be assigned temporarily to the task, and $1,216 to install a security system at Crowley’s house. The figure is expected to increase to a little more than $164,000 for the full year in 2021.

The full board is to vote on the proposal next week. 

Crowley’s use of a public employee for his security detail marks a departure from that of his predecessor, Chris Abele. 

Beginning in 2015, Abele, who did not run for reelection, hired two private security guards from a California-based firm to provide protection. Included in the deal was the use of a GMC Yukon XL, a full-size SUV with a sticker price starting at $50,000.

Gavin de Becker & Associates — which has provided security for former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and actress Jennifer Lawrence — was paid $73.75 an hour for each of the two guards. The no-bid contract ran to about $400,000 annually.

Abele, a multimillionaire, personally picked up the cost for his security after the county kicked in some county funds in the first year.

The arrangement did not sit well with some County Board members. 

Supervisor Supreme Moore Omokunde said he was pleased the county is returning to the practice of having sheriff’s deputies oversee the security.

“It’s appropriate that the governor has the Wisconsin State Police, the mayor has the Milwaukee Police Department and then the county executive be protected by the sheriff’s office,” Omokunde said. “These are county employees, and they have certain allegiances and loyalties and accountability to Milwaukee County.”

Steve Cady, director of policy and research for the county comptroller, said the cost and arrangement would be in line with the way security was traditionally handled for the county executive. He did not discuss in detail the home security system being installed at Crowley’s house, but it will be monitored by 911 dispatch.

Officials close to Crowley said the change in security is not related to any threats he has received. 

Contact Daniel Bice at (414) 224-2135 or dbice@jrn.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielBice or on Facebook at fb.me/daniel.bice.

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