City Ok's $4,500 For Dixon Vacation Escort

Mayor Defends Use Of 2 Officers On Miami Trip

November 05, 2009|By Julie Scharper | Julie Scharper,julie.scharper@baltsun.com

The city's Board of Estimates approved $4,500 Wednesday for costs associated with sending two police officers to accompany the mayor on a summer vacation in Miami.

"This is a system that has been instituted by prior mayors that my administration also carries out," said Mayor Sheila Dixon when asked about incurring the expense at a time when many city agencies, including the Police Department, are facing cuts.

"I think that we are very aware of the many constraints that we face," Dixon said. "I think that I've done a great job of streamlining the mayor's office as well as what's going on in all of our agencies."

The officers' trip began July 30. As is common with elected leaders, details of the mayor's private time were not included on her public schedule at the time.

Among the costs approved by the board was nearly $1,900 for a rental car that Dixon said was used to transport her at times during the 10-day trip, $1,300 for hotel accommodations and $850 for food for the officers.

The make and model of the vehicle rented for the trip and the name of the hotel where the officers stayed were not immediately available, said Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

The executive protection unit is charged with guarding the mayor around the clock, Guglielmi said. Unless the mayor requests to travel alone, officers accompany her on both professional and personal trips, he said.

"It's up to the discretion of the elected official," Guglielmi said, adding that current travel policy is consistent with previous administrations.

When asked whether Gov. Martin O'Malley traveled on vacation with officers, spokesman Rick Abbruzzese said it was his policy to not comment on security arrangements. A call to former Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke was not returned Wednesday.

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