12/31/2005DC Uses Camera Revenue for Lavish Trips
Two-months of speed camera tickets funds travel to exotic destinations for Washington, DC police officers and city officials.
The city of Washington, DC spends $5.5 million on official travel every year, sending city employees and police officers to lavish conferences held in casinos and resort hotels all around the country and the world. Employees also advanced themselves thousands of dollars in cash and Red Lobster gift certificates and charged personal expenses on city credit cards, according to a Washington Post review of travel disclosure forms.
Just two months of photo radar ticketing in the District covers the expense, allowing the city to spend five times the amount that Baltimore spends on travel. Speed camera operations in November topped $2.7 million with $168 million worth of photo tickets mailed out since 1999.
DC police use official trips to unwind in Florida at taxpayer expense. In December 2003, four officers used their official credit card to buy nine bottles of Corona and five schooners of light beer in a Miami Beach bar before heading off for a seminar on handgun use. Similarly, police accompanying Mayor Anthony A. Williams to an event in Las Vegas charged a $92 bar tab to the city at Rumjungle, a popular nightclub featuring "go-go girls [who] dance and prance between bottles of wine to dueling congas."
In the past two years, officers have taken $20,000 in cash advances without any accounting of where the money was spent. Favorite destinations for Metropolitan Police officers include St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Alaska, Puerto Rico and Phoenix.