Raleigh, N.C. — The Raleigh Police Department on Tuesday revised its estimated cost of a three-day training trip that has come under fire by some union members as a waste of public money and department resources.
The trip – taken by two dozen police lieutenants to Civil War battlefields in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania in June – cost $12,756. That's about $5,000 more than the figure released by the department last week.
The earlier number, $7,700, accounted for food and lodging but did not include consultant fees and other costs, department spokesman Jim Sughrue said.
The trip cost breaks down as follows: $7,026 for food and lodging; $4,000 for consultant fees; $1,350 for transportation; and $380 for incidentals such as museum fees and parking.
The expenditure was within the $346,892 allocated in the department's budget this year for professional development, Sughrue said.
Department leaders said the trip provided the lieutenants with an opportunity to learn how political and military leaders made decisions under pressure and to study how leaders emerged during the war.
Days were 12 hours long with no downtime, and the officers used their rooms only to sleep, participants said.
"The majority of people who went on this training found it very fulfilling, found it good to work with their peers that are going to lead this department in the near future," Police Chief Harry Dolan said.
Mayor Nancy McFarlane agreed.
"It is important to have our officers trained in leadership skills and critical decision making," she said in a statement. The mayor also pointed to the Colorado theater shootings as an example of why officers must be prepared.
"As we recently witnessed in Aurora, our officers face new and difficult situations that call for the ability to think and react quickly and accurately," she said.
Raleigh City Councilman John Odom added: "If they get something out of this trip that lasts them the 20 - 25 years in the police department, then I think it's money well spent."
But the Teamsters Local 391, which represents the police interest group Raleigh Police Protective Association, says the trip had no relevance to the officers' jobs.
Chip Roth, a spokesman for Teamsters, called it nothing more than a history lesson.
"This is walking around seeing Civil War battle sites that have no relevance to our everyday world," he said.