NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Mayor Bill de Blasio is facing criticism for using the NYPD's $3 million counterterrorism plane to shuttle him to and from his Canadian vacation for a street renaming in the Bronx.
"This is a bad use of resources. God forbid there's an emergency somewhere in the city that needs this vehicle, and we have a big problem," Joe Giacalone, a former NYPD sergeant, told CBS2's Political Reporter Marcia Kramer.
Giacalone said it's unusual to turn the sophisticated plane, which is outfitted with sensitive radiation sensors, into a commuter airline for one.
"This is something that I find very strange," he said.
Data from the flight tracker website Flight Aware shows the Cessna Caravan left its hangar at MacArthur Airport and flew to Montreal, where it picked up the mayor at 9:09 a.m. Wednesday, then landed at Westchester County airport at 10:58 a.m. De Blasio was driven to a street renaming in honor of slain NYPD Det. Miosotis Familia, then back to the airport for the return trip to Canada, landing at 3:34 p.m., records show.
A City Hall spokesperson first directed questions to the NYPD, then said, "We don't have a comment on the plane."
An NYPD spokesperson said, "The NYPD does not comment on the executive protection detail so as not to compromise sensitive security matters."
Sources tell CBS2 a trip to Canada can burn thousands of dollars in fuel, when you can fly commercial for under $300 one-way.
"It looks like abuse of authority on the mayor's part, and the police commissioner is told what to do by the mayor," said Giacalone.
The mayor's constituents told Kramer they think the flights were a big mistake.
"I feel that it's not a good use of resources. I'm a New York City public school teacher, and I think that better resources should be places in public schools and not for the mayor's own personal spending," said Gabrielle Patti, of Jackson Heights, Queens.
"It's never a good look, especially resources like NYPD. I think we could all use the resources we got," said Orlando Paulino, of Astoria, Queens.
"You've got people out here that need stuff, other things, like maybe let's say for instance, fixing the streets," another man added. "Someone in that position, totally unacceptable."
An NYPD spokesperson insisted the use of the plane did not "impact other operational needs." The department has helicopters that do comparable work.
The counterterrorism plane is often used to scan ships for radioactive material used to make dirty bombs as they approach the harbor. Officials say the plane can do it secretly without the ships knowing they've been scanned.
for more features.