BATON ROUGE, La. - A cross-country trip to a conference in San Diego that included four troopers taking a police vehicle and making stops at tourist destinations and expensive hotels is being examined by a State Commission Board hearing the appeal of officers disciplined in the case.
Three of the troopers have challenged the punishments levied on them for the trip.
In 2016, the troopers drove from Louisiana to a conference in San Diego and stopped at the Grand Canyon and for two days in Las Vegas along the way.
Former State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson, who resigned in 2017 as pressure began to mount on him for several items, including the trip, which was estimated to cost $31,000 to taxpayers.
Edmonson told the board Friday that he trusted his officers to do the right thing.
“I told them to be careful and have a good time,” he said.
Edmonson said he did not specify the route the troopers should take nor ask them for an itinerary.
He was also asked about the troopers charging overtime for their side trips.
“I would have thought that they would not have charged the state for that,” he told the board. “But, we never had lengthy conversations about that.”
The 4 troopers’ detour took them to the Grand Canyon and the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas, and Edmonson denied knowledge that his troopers were going to take the trip and said they should not have charged the state overtime, but that they should’ve received compensatory time for their travel.
Edmonson did testify that he approved hotel rooms for the troopers that were more expensive than allowed by state travel policy, saying that his secretary stamped his signature on them.
An attorney for the three troopers asked Edmonson about receiving text pictures of the troopers at the Grand Canyon, at the Hoover Dam as they stopped to sightsee along their way to San Diego. "I didn’t have a problem with any of that. I know how hard these guys work."
Edmonson said the troopers – Rodney Hyatt, Thurman Miller, Derrell Williams and Alexandr Nezgodinsky were some of his top guys.
“I trusted them then just like I do today.”