Atlanta police officer given free tickets to sporting events - FOX 35 News Orlando

Atlanta police officer given free tickets to sporting events

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Some city of Atlanta employees are upset over perks that police often receive. Officers are often given free passes to events such as the NCAA Final Four.

Not long ago, there was a controversy over free tickets to Atlanta Braves baseball games given to city council members.  The program was discontinued and legislation was passed prohibiting freebies for city workers.

The City Council learned on Thursday of a new free ticket program involving police officers.

Atlanta Ethics Officer Nina Hickson explained the program, saying, "if an entity provided a group of tickets to a city or a city department and that department distributed those in an equitable and fair manner, that that was not a violation."

Some 40 members of the Atlanta Police Department reportedly had access to the Final Four, according to FOX 5's Morse Diggs. It's not known which officers attended.

FOX 5 has learned that an untold number of tickets were turned over to public safety officers for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.

City workers Union Representative Gina Pagnotta  said that she suspects something fishy about the new policy.

"We can't even get discount tickets that go to the aquarium, let alone the zoo of Atlanta. If the ethics are going to allow free tickets to basketball games and sports games and stuff of that nature, by George we would love to have a couple of those tickets. I would love to see a baseball game that I can't afford," Pagnotta said.

The ethics chief said that she is bringing this to light right now because she wants transparency that this practice is taking place. A key thing, she says, is that the entity that wants to give tickets to the police department cannot designate who the tickets specifically go to.

Atlanta Police Department spokesperson Carlos Campos issued a statement saying:

"The NCAA Final Four approached the Atlanta Police Foundation with an offer to honor police officers in uniform during the championship game. The Atlanta Police Department believed it would be an appropriate honor for officers, many of whom were working five consecutive 12-hour shifts due to the Final Four being in town. Officers were required to attend the game in uniform, off duty, and could not bring friends or family. Seventeen officers accepted, and were recognized during the game. The Department sought the opinion of the City Ethics Office prior to accepting the offer. The ethics office indicated it was fine to accept the offer, as long as it was extended to all department personnel, and not a select few.  Police officers, like all city employees, are subject to the provisions of the city's ethics code. The Department goes to great lengths to ensure that such offers are extended to all APD personnel, that such offers comply with the city's ethics code and that any items of value are reported to the city's ethics office, per city code."

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