Knoxville News Sentinel USA TODAY NETWORK - TENNESSEE
Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch spent roughly $18,000 in taxpayer money to travel on nearly a third of the days in 2017, records show.
Rausch took 47 trips that spanned 116 days and 15 states, plus Washington, D.C., where he trekked four times. About half of his trips were to other cities in Tennessee.
By comparison, Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson last year spent $11,000 to take 12 trips that spanned 54 days, while the chief in Asheville, North Carolina, Tammy Hooper, spent $7,250 to take seven trips that spanned 34 days, records show.
Rausch’s travel is detailed in a spreadsheet disclosed by the KnoxvillePolice Department in response to a public records request from USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee. The document provides insight into the busy schedule of Knoxville’s politically active and well-connected police chief.
Rausch said the cost of his trips is dwarfed by the funds he secured for the city by participating in a plethora of board meetings, panels, hearings and conferences.
“I don’t travel to benefit David Rausch,” the 25-year KPD veteran said in a recent interview. “My travel is always, always to benefit this department, to benefit this city and this profession.”
‘People invest in the people they know’
In discussing his travel, Rausch compared his role as police chief to that of a business’s CEO. The goal of many of his trips is to form and maintain relationships with decision-makers who can grant the police department money and other resources.
“When people know who you are and what you’re doing, it’s like any other business,” Rausch said. “People invest in the people they know.”
Rausch aims to raise Knoxville’s profile on an international stage and to ensure the interests of the city and the department are represented in policy discussions in Nashville and Washington.
The chief has already been to the nation’s capital twice this year. In one trip, on March 1, he traveled with the executive board of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, on which he holds the title of general chair of midsize agencies.