SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Rolls Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin; those were just some of the cars cruising the streets of Santa Fe more than a week ago, as part of an international luxury car tour. Drivers were escorted by officers all day, and that has some city residents wondering why they had to foot the bill for the police presence.
The police escort for the event cost city taxpayers nearly $5,000, however, city officials said they were proud to host the event.
The normal traffic in Santa Fe last month included some rare high rollers cruising the streets, with a full-on police escort.
“In the interest of public safety, the city of Santa Fe agreed to assist them with their police escort,” said Jodi McGinnis Porter, Santa Fe spokesperson.
The international motorists tour, this one called “The Jewel that is the U.S.A,” made their first U.S. stop in Santa Fe, complete with Rolls Royces, Aston Martins, a Mercedes Benz Roadster, and some Bentleys.
While the drivers toured the city and areas in the county, a dozen police officers from the city’s traffic division escorted them for about nine hours, costing taxpayers $4,605, including about $2,000 in police overtime.
Some city residents have asked whether that was necessary, but McGinnis Porter said the foreign drivers asked for the escort. “They wouldn’t be familiar with New Mexico driving laws and speed limits,” she explained. “You know, their cars might be kilometers versus miles-per-hour, so there were some concerns there.”
Santa Fe’s new mayor, Javier Gonzales, even made an appearance in a Bentley.
The vintage vehicles were shipped for the event, and their drivers enjoyed the local amenities.
“They brought in lots of lodging, and they shopped in Santa Fe stores, they spent two nights here, they ate here,” said McGinnis Porter.
KRQE News 13 asked why the city didn’t have the tour group foot the bill for the escort. McGinnis Porter said the city didn’t ask them to, adding, she believes it was money well spent.
“When they go home to their perspective countries, they’re going to tell their friends and their families and they’re going to bring more people, and more tourists into our community,” said McGinnis Porter.
The group also does luxury car tours in countries like Europe, and South America, and as you can imagine, it’s invite only.
City officials claim the city wasn’t lacking officers on the streets during the event, and if the traffic division officers were needed, they would have been pulled from the escort.