205. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Administration (Donelan) to the Office of Management and Budget International Programs Division Chief (Frey)1 2


  • Protection of Diplomatic Missions in New York City


The Department of State relied solely on local police departments to provide protection to foreign diplomatic missions and establishments in the United States until August 8, 1970, when the Executive Protective Service (EPS) began providing, protection for diplomatic establishments in the Washington, D.C. area. Public Law 91–217, dated March 19, 1970, states EPS shall provide protection to “foreign diplomatic missions located in the metropolitan area of the District of Columbia” and “foreign diplomatic missions located in other areas of the United States, its territories and possessions, as the President, on a case-by-case basis, may direct.”

Since the passage of Public Law 91–217 EPS has served outside the District of Columbia area on three occasions:

25th Commemorative Session of the United Nations General Assembly in October 1970
Strike or “Job Action” of the New York City Policemen in January 1971
27th Session of the UNGA, September-November 1972

Legislative history severely curtails the authority of EPS to protect foreign missions located outside of the Washington, D.C. area. Both the Senate and the House reports express the view that the EPS should be used [Page 2]outside of the Washington area only in the most exceptional circumstances. The House reports state, in part, “This additional authority is not, and may not be construed to be, a substitute for the responsibility of local police forces to provide protection for consulates, the United Nations and similar foreign delegations with the United States.—It is not intended that this new service assume the responsibilities of other police departments to provide protection to persons and property within their respective jurisdictions.”

Congress’ apparent opposition to the performance by federal authorities of protective functions traditionally provided by local police leaves little prospect for enactment of further legislation.

In July 1970 the New York City Police Department (NYPD) announced they would no longer assign policemen inside a private building. However, since then they have manned inside posts in the most extreme circumstances when directed by the Mayor. The police will agree to street coverage. (This is basically true of all police departments throughout the United States at this time.) Thus the problem of providing coverage to the numerous U.N. Missions and Consulates located in private buildings in New York City has been critical since 1970. In the latest use of EPS in New York City, they manned the 23 inside posts while the NYPD manned all the posts on the streets.

They NYPD has never refused to respond to a demonstration or a “hard threat” against a diplomatic mission. However, the NYPD is facing a serious crime problem in New York City and a shortage of policemen. They will not tie up policemen when the information or threat is not specific.

In June 1971, the U.S. Secret Service conducted a study of protective costs in New York City. The study determined it would cost $4,054,062 a year for EPS to provide the level of protection being afforded by the NYPD at that time. To reimburse the NYPD for such coverage would amount to $1,190.700. The study also noted that a private security organization could adequately protect the Missions at a much lower cost than EPS.

[Page 3]

Attempts have been made in the past to reimburse New York City for extraordinary costs. HR-588 was introduced in January 1969. This act would have amended the U.N. Participation Act of 1945 to authorize the Secretary of State to pay the City of New York $4,404,000 for unusual expenses incurred in 1960 (15th Anniversary of the U.N.). HR-589 would have authorized the Secretary of State to annually reimburse the City of New York for the portion of the costs of its police department attributable to providing protection to the U.N. and delegates thereto. These bills died in the House.

On January 29, 1971, HR-2572 provided for a federal payment in the amount of $2,626,685.07 to the City of New York for extraordinary expenses incurred in providing protection during the 25th General Assembly of the U.N. The Department of State could not support this bill, but supported S-2157 dated June 24, 1971. S-2157 called for $1,300,000 as an ex gratia payment to assist the City of New York in defraying these extraordinary expenses. Congress had made a special appropriation of $1,650,000 for the Treasury Department to assist during the 25th UNGA. It was felt another $1,300,000 fulfilled the federal government’s obligation. Neither bill was voted out of committee.

Resorting to the use of a private security organization might be more acceptable to the Congress than the regular use of BPS for this purpose. To do this legislation authorizing the use of private guards by the federal government would be required in addition to an appropriation of funds. However, once the federal government received authority to provide this coverage, pressures would build up, not only in New York City but in other major U.S. cities where foreign establishments are located, to have the federal government provide all protective services for these foreign diplomatic missions. Local officials, particularly in Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles, have already suggested the federal government reimburse them for costs incurred in protecting visiting foreign dignitaries and the foreign diplomatic establishments in their cities.

The Department of State has taken the position in the past that it is not appropriate, nor would it be consistent with the responsibilities of a host government, [Page 4]to ask the foreign missions to provide their own protection.

Public Law 92–539 of October 24, 1917, is an effort to enhance the safety and well-being of diplomats and official guests in the United States. This act makes it a federal offense to: (1) harm or harass a foreign official or official guest; (2) destroy property belonging to or, used by a foreign government, foreign official or official guest; or (3) demonstrate within 100 feet of buildings belonging to, or used by foreign officials. While no federal prosecutions have taken place to date under this act, it is hoped it will help prevent hostile actions against foreign officials and foreign missions in the future.


Continue to rely on the New York City Police Department to provide day-to-day protection, utilizing EPS during extraordinary situations. EPS must be provided the necessary money and manpower to meet these emergencies.
Reimburse the City of New York for extraordinary costs incurred due to unusual circumstances or events, such as the 25th Commemorative Session of the UNGA which was attended by a great number of heads of government or the recent UNGA when world-wide terrorism posed a serious threat to a large number of UN Missions.
Reimburse the City of New York for all costs related to the protection of diplomatic officials and their missions.
Request legislation authorizing the use of private guards by the federal government and the funds necessary to implement such a program.
Amend Public Law 91–217 to expand BPS authority to allow for its regular use outside of the Washington, D.C. area.

The Department of State recommends alternatives 1 and 2 at this time. As discussed in this paper, the [Page 5]other alternatives are either not practical or would lack the necessary congressional support at this time.

Joseph F. Donelan, Jr.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, M/CT Files: Lot 77 D 30, Protection of Foreign Officials and Installations, 1971–1973. No classification marking. Drafted by Gentile. Copies were sent to Donelan and DePalma.
  2. The memorandum recounted problems associated with efforts to protect foreign diplomats and missions in New York City and outlined alternatives for resolution.