Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2011 with his security detail, including Cmdr. Brian Thompson, far right. | Sun-Times files
Jon Seidel and Tim Novak
Sign-Up for our News & Politics Newsletter Sign-Up
When one of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley’s daughters lost her ID in Mexico, a member of Daley’s Chicago Police Department security detail was sent to get a copy of her passport
from a City Hall safe so she could return to the United States.
When another of Daley’s police bodyguards was accused of asking First Lady Maggie Daley for help getting his kids into a school, he was banned from driving her around town.
And when that same bodyguard learned he wouldn’t keep his job once Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office, he refused to drive Daley home on one of his last days as mayor.
What goes on inside the mayor’s security detail is usually closely guarded. But records unsealed by a federal appellate court offer a rare look inside that secretive world. The records are part of an unsuccessful lawsuit filed by 11 officers formerly on the team, who said politics and racial favoritism influenced the selection of Emanuel’s security detail when he succeeded Daley in 2011.
The officers — who were seeking financial damages and reinstatement to the coveted jobs — lost at trial last year and are now pursuing the case before the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The documents include portions of depositions of police officers assigned to guard either Daley or Emanuel.
The newly released trove makes clear that one of Daley’s closest aides, Patrick McLain, wielded great authority over the detail, despite not being a police officer. For instance, McLain joined a commander in giving this key instruction to members of the detail, according to an October 2014 deposition by Officer Patrick Doyle: “What I hear and say around the Daley family or in City Hall is confidential and not to be repeated.”
Efforts to reach McLain, now retired, were unsuccessful. Jacquelyn Heard, Daley’s longtime press secretary at City Hall who joined him at a Chicago law firm after he left office, didn’t return calls.
Ed Fox, a lawyer for the officers who sued, says much of what’s in the court documents — made public as part of the appeal — didn’t come out at trial because they weren’t relevant to the officers’ claims.
McLain lives across the street from Daley’s former Bridgeport home. He would interview officers before they were assigned to protect and chauffeur Daley, his wife and their kids, the records show. The officers said they also had to give rides to McLain, who sources say acted as Daley’s personal valet for years.
“We never protected him,” Cmdr. Brian Thompson said in an Aug. 26, 2014, deposition. “We provided rides for him. … That was one of the duties.
“Pat McLain was, is, was who I listened to. He was my supervisor, technically.”
Thompson, once a commander in Daley’s detail, became the head of Emanuel’s security team and was a defendant in the suit, along with the city, Emanuel, former Supts. Terry Hillard and Garry McCarthy, Emanuel aide Michael Faulman and high-ranking cops James Jackson, Beatrice Cuello and Eugene Williams.
Daley’s detail was made up of 21 officers divided into two teams. According to the officers’ depositions, McLain was a sounding board for them when they were unhappy with the detail’s commanders, including James Keating and James Carlo, both retired now. The records show McLain often would be chauffeured by one of two officers: Veronica Rodriguez or Carol Weingart.
Former Supt. Garry McCarthy. | Sun-Times files
They also show McLain picked the cops who were assigned to Daley’s post-mayoral detail, which remained with the former mayor until September 2011. That’s when “the determination was made that former Mayor Daley was really not in need of a security detail,” according to testimony from McCarthy.
“It was OK once in a while to provide him security if he was going to a high-profile event or if he was going to be out in public, which is the steps that we took moving forward,” McCarthy testified.
Being assigned to protect or drive the mayor was such a sensitive position that Sam Roti, a onetime commander of Daley’s detail, said no one with connections to an alderman should have the job. In a March 2, 2015, deposition, Roti said, “If they’re gonna run back to an alderman or a committeemen who happens to be very powerful, then, you just — there’s no room for that.”
Mayor Richard M. Daley arrives with Sam Roti, head of Daley’s security detail, for an appearance at the West Englewood Library Branch in May 2010. | Sun-Times files
According to testimony from Hillard, who served on details for former Mayors Jane Byrne and Harold Washington, “In order to get on the mayoral bodyguard detail, you got to know somebody, or somebody got to know you.”
Daley didn’t have a privacy partition in his car, so he would turn up the radio or have a driver pull over so he could hop out to have a private phone conversation, according to one former member of his detail.
Some officers described the former mayor as a backseat driver who’d tell his chauffeurs which streets to take. But they said he paid attention to the state of the city. Doyle said he once was told to return to vacant, burned-out buildings to get their addresses after Daley noticed them from the car.
An officer looking for an easy workday might want to drive the mayor’s kids around, Officer John Pigott said in a Jan. 27, 2015, deposition.
“So the mayor’s schedule, you were going nonstop, you know, usually from early in the morning to late at night,” Pigott said. “With the kids, you would get there at 7, usually not be called for a ride until probably 10 o’clock, and then you wouldn’t see them until 5 o’clock.
“I wanted to drive the mayor,” Pigott said. “That was my assignment. But if I had to drive the kids, I gladly drove the kids.”
Daley and his family apparently placed a great deal of trust in his detail.
“I was trusted by them to do certain tasks,” Officer Daniel Houlihan said in an Oct. 14, 2014, deposition. “Going to their residence alone. I can give you an instance where [Daley’s youngest daughter] Elizabeth was in Mexico and lost her ID and stuff. I had to go get a copy of her passport out of the safe at City Hall so she can get back into the country.”
Still, officers testified Daley didn’t let on to them before his September 2010 announcement that he’d decided not to run for a seventh term.
According to the depositions, Pigott got so upset when he found out he wasn’t being kept on to protect Emanuel that he went home early on May 13, 2011 — one of Daley’s last days as mayor — rather than drive Daley home that night, and Thompson had to do that.
Thompson said he didn’t write up Pigott for that. “It was the end of the road,” Thompson said in a Feb. 7, 2014, deposition. “Why bring any embarrassment to Mayor Daley or to the administration the last hour of his existence as the mayor?”
That was one of several disciplinary issues revealed in the previously unsealed records. In another, Thompson accused Houlihan of once coming to work drunk. Thompson said he told Houlihan to sleep it off and didn’t report him.
Doyle was accused one time of removing his weapon in the City Hall press office and “cleaning it in front of civilians, “ which he denied.
Thompson accused Pigott of gossiping about the Daley family — “trips that they may take, seriousness of Mrs. Daley’s cancer, issues that the family would have with the grandkids,” he testified.
Maggie Daley didn’t want Michael Padalino around her grandchildren because he smelled like smoke, Thompson said. And Pigott wasn’t allowed to drive her after asking her for help getting his kids into a “certain school,” Thompson said.
Hillard had been brought back as interim police superintendent while Emanuel was mayor-elect. In a deposition last June, Emanuel testified he gave Hillard two instructions regarding his security detail: “Make it smaller, and make it as diverse as the city of Chicago.”
Terry Hillard. | AP
Hillard testified he worried the threat level with Emanuel “is going to be off the charts.”
“We had not had a new mayor in the city for almost 22 years,” Hillard testified. “And we had a new mayor-elect coming in to the city of Chicago who was Jewish, who had been the chief of staff of the first African-American president of the United States.”
Hillard also said he hoped to put a detail together “without having to deal with politics.” Yet five former Emanuel campaign volunteers wound up on Emanuel’s detail, the records show.
Daley detail members Roti, Carlo and Eusebio Razo had been campaign volunteers for Daley when he first was elected mayor, in 1989.
In determining how to protect Emanuel, Hillard said he looked for “runners and swimmers.”
Thompson testified about why: “Mayor Rahm Emanuel is a triathlete. He gets up every morning, and he bikes, swims and runs. Someone runs from the detail, picks him up and has escorted him during his workouts … When he runs, someone would run with him.”
Thompson agreed that, with Emanuel, “The threat level has been higher. We’ve had various incidents of a wider range of protesters. He’s younger. He’s a lot more active. He gets up earlier. The days are longer. The family makeup is identical, but they are more active, as well.”