ABC 17 News made a records request for the expenses related to the September trip to Memphis to visit the National Civil Rights Museum.
The majority of the money spent on the trip went toward travel and lodging.
According to the document, $3,612 went toward the hotel, Peabody Memphis. This covered a total of 25 rooms, which breaks down to $121 per room, plus taxes and fees. The city spent a total of $2,835 for transportation, which was contracted through White Knight Coaches.
The city also paid for admission for 34 people to the museum and a tour guide fee, which cost a total of $590. A per diem for city employees cost $950 total.
$885.20 went toward boxed lunches and beverages, which included soda, juice and water. The money was spent on boxed lunches on the way to Memphis and on the way back.
Police Chief Geoff Jones said the cost of the trip was worth it.
“It was one of the best trainings [sic] I have attended in which we shared a common experience and had candid conversations that will help to strengthen Columbia as a community,” Jones said on Friday.
The city budgeted $266,973 for training and travel for fiscal year 2020, which started on Oct. 1.
Jim Whitt, a former member of the Columbia Public Schools Board of Education and current supplier diversity program director for the city, agreed that the trip was a good use of city funds.
“[W]ith great change comes great initiatives to effect change – change many times meets resistance in order to maintain the status quo,” Whitt said. “I believe the Chief wants to build a better police force to benefit all of Columbia – let’s give him a chance to make change.”