Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren says the first few threatening calls she received came on her cell phone.
"I got a couple of blocked calls," she says. "'You don't deserve to be mayor.' 'How long do you think you'll be around?' That type of stuff."
She tried to disregard them, she says. And then a local radio station alerted her to the fact that someone had tried to hack into the station to put what Warren calls negative, degrading, and racial comments on the air.
Warren says the station alerted the authorities, and that's when she decided to ask then-Police Chief James Sheppard for advice. Sheppard told her, she says, that he's always believed the mayor should have security.
Warren's hiring of a two-person personal security team has raised questions about extravagance and nepotism. The guards are on call 24-7, and will earn a combined salary of more than $140,000. One of the guards, Reggie Hill, is a retiring state trooper and is also Warren's uncle.
In an interview at City Hall last week, Warren said the situation got worse when the media reported that as a teenager, her husband, Timothy Granison, was the driver of a car whose occupants were involved in an armed robbery. He received probation, and because of his status as a youthful offender, his record was sealed.
"Outing" her husband put the whole family at risk, Warren said, including the couple's young daughter. Granison began to get calls, too, Warren said.
"The threats started to get a lot more real," she said, "especially after the thing that came out with my husband: 'How long do you think your wife's going to be around?' 'Oh, that's a beautiful daughter you have.'"
Once Warren decided she needed security, she said, the city's human resources department began looking at options. The department found that the least expensive way to protect her is with a private security force, Warren said.
"I don't want to get into any issues of overtime," she said, "because I know how my schedule is. Sometimes I leave at 7 o'clock in the morning and I don't come home until 9 o'clock at night.
"We thought this was the cheapest way to do this temporarily," Warren said.
The jobs are being posted, she said, and both members of her team will have to go through the Civil Service process if they want to stay on.
The level of vitriol she's experienced since becoming mayor has exceeded her expectations, she said. "It's just, people are cruel. People wanting me to die. Wishing I was poisoned. But I'm not here for those people. I'm here for the people that want to see great things in Rochester, and that's what I plan on doing."
Lovely Warren | Rochester Police Department | Reggie Hill | Security