North Miami Mayor Lucie Tondreau Defends Police Escort for Elected Officials

Threatening phone calls have prompted North Miami Mayor Lucie Tondreau to ride to work with a police escort.

Security concerns over threatening phone calls have prompted North Miami to offer police escorts to elected officials.

The city's new mayor, Lucie Tondreau, has been using the service for several weeks, even though the threat was not made against her.

"I am here as a mayor to serve my community and to be there for my community," Tondreau said. "The last thing that I would like to have to worry is about my safety."

Other security enhancements include an armed guard posted inside city hall. Employees are now required to display identification cards and metal detectors are expected soon.

The new security moves are in response to recent phone threats made to a city worker over an expensive water bill. Police investigated the threats last month, but didn't feel it was necessary to criminally charge the man.

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The security upgrades at city hall have been in the works for several years, but slim budgets have slowed enhancements.

City Manager Stephen Johnson said the threats, coupled with the needs, prompted him to act now.

"I don't want our city to be a case study because somebody else perceives it seems to be a small issue, not under my watch," he said.

Vice Mayor Scott Galvin didn't call the matter a small issue, but he said the response to the threats, specifically police escorts for elected officials, goes too far.

"There's not been a specific threat against her or her family," Galvin said. "I feel safe in my own community, these are my neighbors and my friends, anything can happen to somebody at any place at any time."

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Some city employees appreciate a safer work environment, but others may question the police escort service.

Mayor Tondreau said she considered the threat to the worker a threat to her, as the leader of the local government.

"I am here days and nights, and I go to almost every function there is in the city," she said. "I felt like I needed somebody to be there with me, and remember I am a woman -- a politician, but a woman as well."

The city manager said the the police escort service will be similar to the programs already in place in the City of Miami and Miami-Dade county. The cost is expected to be nominal, as it will likely involve an officer who is already on duty.

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