SE­CU­RITY CHIEF FOR LIGHT­FOOT STEPS DOWN

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY TOM SCHUBA, STAFF REPORTER tschuba@sun­times.com | @TomSchuba

James Smith, the com­man­der of Mayor Lori Light­foot’s se­cu­rity de­tail, has re­signed.

“In July, Jim Smith spoke with the mayor about the need to leave his com­mand of the mayor’s de­tail in the com­ing weeks,” Light­foot spokesman Pat Mul­lane said in a state­ment Wed­nes­day. “Yes­ter­day was Smith’s last day. The mayor thanks him for his ser­vice.”

Smith also put out a state­ment, say­ing the de­ci­sion was per­sonal.

“Dur­ing a self-im­posed quar­an­tine ear­lier this sum­mer, I had the op­por­tu­nity to spend two full weeks with my fam­ily. It was the most con­sec­u­tive time we’ve been to­gether in the last 18 months,” Smith said. “It made me re­al­ize how fast my young fam­ily is grow­ing up. I have missed so much and will con­tinue to do so if I were to stay in this 24/7 po­si­tion.”

Smith’s re­tire­ment was first re­ported by the Chicago Tri­bune.

Light­foot’s de­ci­sion last year to ap­point the re­tired deputy U.S. mar­shal as her se­cu­rity chief drew swift con­dem­na­tion from for­mer Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice Pres­i­dent Kevin Gra­ham, who in­sisted the mayor’s body­guard de­tail had been the purview of Chicago po­lice.

Light­foot brushed off the crit­i­cism at the time, say­ing the po­lice union “is never happy” and called the im­broglio “a tem­pest in a teapot.” She de­fended Smith by not­ing that he “guarded Supreme Court jus­tices [and] high-rank­ing fed­eral of­fi­cials who have been un­der threat.”

Af­ter work­ing for the U.S. Mar­shals Ser­vice for three decades, Smith served as a man­ag­ing mem­ber of Sil­ver Star Pro­tec­tion Group, a pri­vate se­cu­rity firm. In 2016, the Chicago Sun-Times re­ported the out­fit had been con­tracted to pro­tect med­i­cal cannabis dis­pen­saries in Illi­nois.

On Wed­nes­day, Smith said it was an “honor and priv­i­lege” to serve along­side mem­bers of the po­lice de­part­ment “dur­ing one of the most tu­mul­tuous times in the city of Chicago.”

In re­cent months, pro­test­ers, urg­ing Light­foot to sub­stan­tially cut the po­lice bud­get and re­move cops from schools, have flocked to her Lo­gan Square home. As a re­sult, there has been heavy po­lice pres­ence in the neigh­bor­hood — some­thing Light­foot has de­fended by cit­ing “spe­cific threats” made against her­self and her fam­ily.

The news of Smith’s res­ig­na­tion comes a day af­ter the mayor’s of­fice an­nounced that Paul Ste­wart, Light­foot’s top pot ad­viser and as­sis­tant deputy mayor, was also out of a job. A City Hall source told the Sun-Times that Ste­wart was “shocked” when the news came down Mon­day that he was fired.

ASHLEE REZIN GAR­CIA/SUN-TIMES FILE PHOTO

James Smith (left), head of Mayor Lori Light­foot’s se­cu­rity de­tail, watches as Light­foot takes a selfie with a sup­porter af­ter a press con­fer­ence in the El­lis Park field­house in 2019.

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