Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren today sought to explain why her driver, who happens to be her uncle, was speeding on the Thruway and stopped on their way back from the State of the State last Wednesday.
She said they were going a “little bit above 77 to 80 (mph)” and was let go with a warning, not a ticket, the Democrat and Chronicle reports.
The head of her security and apparent driver was retired State Police investigator Reggie Hill, her uncle.
Warren said that Hill explained to the trooper that he was on a security detail, had done security for past governors and that going faster than the average traffic speed was standard practice. The trooper then explained to Hill that, “You are not doing security for the governor anymore, you need to slow down, next time I’m giving you a ticket,” Warren said.
“We were going a little bit above 77 to 80 (mph),” she said, but added that she was on the phone and not watching the speedometer.
The Albany Times Union reported Monday that Hill was going 97 mph near Gloversville on the way to Albany and the governor’s State of the State address. Warren spokeswoman Chris Christopher said it was near Canajoharie, about 50 miles outside of Albany. Christopher told the Times Union that Hill told her he thought “he was exceeding 80.”
Warren said she did not think Hill sped on the way to Albany. Had she noticed, she said, “I think I would have told him to slow down.” Asked by the Democrat and Chronicle to provide the vehicle’s E-ZPass record, if one exists, Christopher said she was looking into the matter.
The State Police issued a brief statement Monday afternoon that read: “We are aware it is possible a trooper effected discretion during a traffic stop involving the Mayor of Rochester last week. Having said that we want to be clear, we would never encourage or condone driving at an excessive rate of speed.”
During a hastily called news conference Monday at City Hall, Warren also went deeper into explaining why and how she hired her two-man security detail in the first place. She said the matter wasn’t raised until roughly a week before she took office, thus there was not advertising before the hiring, but she said the positions would be advertised and both men would need to re-apply.
The positions were authorized on a temporary basis by the executive secretary of the Civil Service Commission and will be considered formally on Thursday, the city said previously. Hill reports to Deputy Mayor Leonard Redon, not directly to Warren, she said.
As for why bring in security in the first place? Warren noted comments made on chat boards and phone calls, saying one or more was from a private and/or anonymous number. The message was predominantly racist in nature, she said, but included: “You don’t deserve to be here. You won’t be here for long.” She said she took the latter to be a physical threat.