Web Hosting

The embattled head of Mayor de Blasio’s NYPD bodyguard unit remains in his prestigious post — and sources inside the department believe it’s all thanks to the man he’s supposed to protect.

Sources tell the Daily News that Inspector Howard Redmond was going to be removed from his role as commanding officer of the Executive Protection Unit — that is, until the mayor stepped in.

The decision to reassign Redmond was made by Intelligence Division Chief Thomas Galati and Commissioner James O’Neill in the summer, sources said, as The News ran a series of stories about turmoil within the EPU.

But sources close to the troubled unit believe de Blasio then intervened and saved Redmond’s job. Only de Blasio would have the authority to override Galati and O’Neill’s decision.

“When people get to the point where they think they are untouchable, it’s not surprising,” a police source said. “None of this would have happened at any other level in the NYPD or any other department. It was a ground ball they let go into the outfield.”

City Hall and the NYPD denied de Blasio had any role in the department’s review of the unit.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, left, and NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill confer during a press conference Jan. 30, 2018, in New York.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, left, and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill confer during a press conference Jan. 30, 2018, in New York. (Bebeto Matthews/AP)

“Decisions regarding the executive protection unit, including any potential personnel issues, are made solely by the NYPD,” agency spokesman Phil Walzak said, adding: “The mayor was not consulted nor provided input on personnel decisions. The Intelligence Bureau did not want to remove Insp. Redmond.”

Redmond was a central figure in six discrimination lawsuits filed by disgruntled members of the EPU. They alleged the unit was highly politicized and that promotions and desirable assignments were given to white, young cops in Redmond’s favor.

One highly decorated detective in the unit believed he’d fallen out of favor with Redmond because of his age, resulting in him being ordered to guard an area behind City Hall used for garbage disposal. A black detective said he was routinely given duties beneath his rank, like standing guard outside Gracie Mansion in 20-degree weather.

The claims of discrimination are backed up by a federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission finding that black detectives were treated unfairly within the Intel Division, which includes the EPU. Two retired black detectives and the widow of another who also alleged discrimination received a $700,000 settlement from the city last week.

The discord in the EPU even got physical. A retired sergeant told The News that the second-in-command of the unit, Lt. Karl Pfeffer, had drunkenly yelled and shoved him at Gracie Mansion — and that Redmond had then covered it up. The NYPD closed a “thorough” probe of the incident after finding it was “unsubstantiated” and no one was disciplined. A police official said Internal Affairs investigators were unable to examine video of the incident because it had been destroyed — but The News then published the footage on Friday.

Another police source said that an EPU sergeant who tested positive for marijuana in 2017 was also a source of embarrassment within the Department.

From left, Erin Fitchett, Karl Rugg and Keith Dietrich, are three EPU detectives who sued the NYPD for various forms of discrimination.
From left, Erin Fitchett, Karl Rugg and Keith Dietrich, are three EPU detectives who sued the NYPD for various forms of discrimination. (New York Daily News)

The apparent decision by de Blasio to keep Redmond in his post fits with the mayor’s pattern of standing by scandal-scarred officials. He supported embattled former NYCHA boss Shola Olatoye, even after it emerged she’d given erroneous testimony to the City Council about lead paint inspections. He stood by ex-Administration for Children’s Services head Gladys Carrióneven after high-profile beating deaths of young boys on the agency’s radar. He also allowed the head of OATH, Fidel Del Valle, to take a “health-related” leave rather than firing him after he loudly and profanely berated an NYPD cop at City Hall.

“This claim is completely false. The Mayor is not involved in PD’s internal reviews. We have total confidence in the protection unit’s leadership and professionalism,” City Hall spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie said.

Sources close to the EPU say the commanding officer job is uniquely powerful. Redmond does not just answer to Galati and O’Neill — he also answers directly to de Blasio, with whom he interacts daily.

A sergeant who worked on the EPU when de Blasio first took office in 2014 said he was not an easy “principal.” De Blasio’s routine trips from Gracie Mansion to Park Slope for a workout at the Park Slope YMCA — often followed by an espresso and whole wheat croissant — were a major source of stress for the unit early in his administration, the source said.

“He’s the smartest man in the room. Just ask him. That’s his MO. He throws jabs but you can’t jab back cause he’s the mayor,” the source said.

The sergeant retired in 2015 after a tumultuous 10 months on the EPU in which he ran afoul of Redmond. He said the powerful Inspector held an inexplicable grudge against cops he thought were overweight.

“It was a mistake working for him. Probably the biggest mistake of my life,” the sergeant said

With Anna Sanders