Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder defended his eight-person security detail yesterday, saying the presence of armed officers is needed to protect him from the dozens of assassin teams that call Richmond home.
“Now I’m not going to sit here and apologize for [having security], as having it is necessary to watch over me as I cut crime and eliminate waste in this city,” Wilder said, explaining that he takes “extra care” to check for assassins whenever passing by a grassy knoll, watching a play from a local theater balcony or pretending that he is president of the United States.
Wilder said he has learned from “many years of motion picture viewing” that assassins pose a real threat to important or high-profile people.
“Just watch all of ‘The Bourne Ultimatium’ movies. Or the ‘Kill Uma Thurman’ one,” Wilder said, adding that he enjoyed the action but took the killer-for-hire threats to heart in 2005’s “Mr. And Mrs. Pitt.”
“Assassins could be living among us and we wouldn’t even know it,” Wilder said he learned from the movies.
The defense from Wilder comes as mayoral candidates have questioned the $1.3 million spent on his security since 2004, an expense that helps the mayor navigate down Broad Street without having to worry about the so-called “Clover Potatoes” gang of Irish Army-trained super-snipers waiting for him to move into the cross-hairs of their rifles.
“I announced my candidacy on the basis that I would get rid of the entourage, drive myself around, and spend those savings on other things,” said former Wilder adviser and mayoral candidate Paul Goldman, who added that he “was looking into” how to go about dismantling the heat-seeking missiles from several rooftops within the vicinity of City Hall.
In any case, mayoral security teams appear to be rare, experts say, though Sean Lynn III, a Washington-based corporate security officer, believes Wilder’s guards are necessary.
“In Washington, for example, someone like the president has a very large security detail, while a Congressman may have one or two armed men or women at their side,” Lynn said. “In a typical city of Richmond’s size, I’d say Wilder could probably get away with a semi-strong looking dog or a can of pepper spray.”
“But seeing as how you have such a major assassin problem in the city,” Lynn said, “I’d say that is reason enough – in fact, the only reason – for him to have protection.”