STATE

Trump 2024 presidential run hasn't been announced but law enforcement near Mar-a-Lago are preparing for it

Security discussed a scenario in which Trump may use Mar-a-Lago as his campaign headquarters.

Wendy Rhodes
Palm Beach Post

While pundits speculate, law enforcement agencies appear to be planning beefed-up security around Mar-a-Lago in the event former President Donald Trump announces a political comeback campaign, The Palm Beach Post has learned.

The U.S. Secret Service on Tuesday morning called a meeting with local law enforcement officials at Mar-a-Lago — Trump's part-time home and private club on Palm Beach — to discuss security arrangements in case Trump enters the 2024 presidential race, said a source who attended the meeting. It was believed to be the second such meeting to discuss the subject.

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One scenario discussed was that Trump may use Mar-a-Lago, dubbed the Southern White House while he was president, as his campaign headquarters, the source said, which would result in an increased number of people coming and going from the area.

When asked Wednesday for details about the meeting, public information officers for the Palm Beach Police Department and Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said they had no knowledge any such meeting took place.

There have been signs recently that Trump may be leaning toward running

Speculation about Trump's plans for 2024 began almost as Trump arrived at Palm Beach International Airport just before noon on Jan. 20 to begin his post-presidency.

But expectations have risen recently owing to Trump's announcement last week that he would start a social media platform, an exponential increase in his Save America PAC emails on political issues, recent rallies and a drop in President Joe Biden's standing in the polls.

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Trump left Florida in May to summer at his New Jersey golf club. He had been staying at Mar-a-Lago since leaving the White House

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Trump's presence in Palm Beach County brings a mixture of joy, anger and frustration to local residents. 

A 1993 agreement with the town of Palm Beach allowed Trump to convert Mar-a-Lago to a 10-guest-suite private club but, in doing so, prohibited him from living there full-time. Going against that agreement, Trump in 2019 announced he was moving his residency status from New York to Florida, and that Mar-a-Lago would be his new home. 

And while some neighbors fought back, earlier this year Trump officially skirted the 1993 agreement by claiming he was an employee of his club. The town in the spring agreed with Trump’s attorney, who held that his client performed work at the club such as attending events, greeting guests and recommending candidates for membership.

While some lament Trump’s return to the quiet island, it is cause for celebration for others.

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On June 14, Trump's birthday, hundreds of red, white and blue-clad fans in sparkles and MAGA hats lined up along Southern Boulevard to show their support, as they had done regularly throughout his one-term presidency, even though the former president was in New Jersey.

While the enthusiasm in the air during rallies is palpable, the flag-waving, bullhorns, loud music, cars and trucks parked in traffic lanes and supporters stepping in front of motorists can cause frustrating delays for commuters. 

In Palm Beach, the narrow, barrier island on which Mar-a-Lago is located, traffic was delayed and diverted when then-President Trump was in town. Security checkpoints set up by Secret Service attracted onlookers and further slowed the flow of cars. 

At nearby Palm Beach International Airport, Trump’s arrivals and departures on Air Force One led to flight delays and changes in airplane traffic patterns, diverting planes away from Mar-a-Lago and over the homes of local residents.

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And for local law enforcement officers, Trump’s presence translated into big budget costs that had to be reimbursed by the federal government. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Palm Beach Police and West Palm Beach Police reported racking up almost $10 million in overtime pay between 2017 and mid-2019 for the days Trump was in town. 

Follow Wendy Rhodes on Twitter: @WendyRhodes