Elias’ trips, Johnson said, are for networking and educating Haitian police about various law-enforcement tactics.
“I know as a Haitian American chief, Chief Elias is sort of iconic,” Johnson added. “He speaks Creole, French, Spanish and English and he is very popular in that regard as a speaker.”
In November 2012, Elias wrote he would be in Haiti for an 11-day “joint investigation in child exploitation.”
It turns out, there was no child exploitation investigation.
“It’s more like sharing information on crime trends,” wrote Solomon, the city’s spokeswoman in an email.
Solomon said she was not aware of any child exploitation incidents in North Miami.
In December 2012, Elias returned to Haiti for the swearing in of Godson Orelus, Haitian national police chief. While there, Elias was scheduled to conduct a two-day workshop.
After securing an economy class seat for that trip, Elias later upgraded to business class. He was reimbursed with LETF funds.
In an email securing a room at La Villa Creole, where the chief typically lodges, a staff member wrote, “We are pleased to reserve the usual room for Chief Marc Elias. … Looking forward to welcoming him soon again.”
When the Haitian National Police celebrated its 18th anniversary in June, Elias was on hand to partake in the week-long festivities which included a basketball tournament and motorcycle show. Elias wrote he would also participate in seminars regarding crime and child exploitation.
As city manager, Johnson said he is always reviewing the benefits of traveling and other nonessential expenses to make sure they’re in the best interest of North Miami’s taxpayers.
“If it’s not beneficial and we’re not getting something out it, then we change,” he said.
In the case of Elias’ jaunts to Haiti, Johnson said North Miami’s return is goodwill.
“As far was what does North Miami receive from that, we’re educating in a country that’s less fortunate.” he said, “What do we get? Sometimes it’s the feeling you get of just helping a department that is less fortunate.”
Miami Herald staff writer Jacqueline Charles contributed to this report from Haiti.