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In response to a story in the Washington Times on the high rate of turnover in Mayor Marion Barry’s security detail, Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Joe Gentile wrote, “It must be emphasized that members are reassigned from the mayor’s security detail for personal reasons…members are required to work long, arduous hours in an effort to keep up with Mayor Barry’s schedule. While working the detail members must be in a constant state of readiness and alert every minute. These conditions quickly lead to ‘burn out.’”
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While burn-out was certainly a threat in Barry’s bad old days, to fully appreciate the stress that comes with shadowing the mayor’s current lifestyle, sample the past few days in the harrowing life of a mayoral security detailee. Late last week, for instance, you find yourself trapped at Coolfont resort in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., where you are forced to follow the mayor onto the tennis court and into saunas and steam baths—testing the temperateness of the water before the mayor risks life and limb. Next, you head back to D.C. and walk with the mayor in Monday’s parade in Southeast—making sure to secure the perimeter before grabbing some cotton candy. And on Tuesday, you face the rigor of a routine mayoral business day, featuring all of four appointments: a 9:30 a.m. address at the National Press Club (slam coffee and doughnuts), a 12:30 event for the United Way at the Bureau of National Affairs (more munchies), staff meetings from 3:00 to 4:00 (catch some Zs), and a 5:00 speech to kick off violence-prevention month (maintain constant state of readiness). And don’t forget to watch the mayor’s back during the half-hour he spends each noon “just doing nothing and looking out the window”—an activity he committed to when he came back from his rejuvenation outing last spring.
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