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Article posted Jun 20 2010, 3:03 PM Category: Politics/Corruption Source: Washington Examiner Print

D.C. police department's tech czar ousted (he did his job)

By: Bill Myers

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier sacked her top computer whiz only four months after hailing him for being a "visionary" who was carrying the department "to the 21st century," The Washington Examiner has learned.

Travis Hudnall was escorted from police headquarters Friday and Lanier issued a bulletin warning her officers not to let him into any police building, law enforcement sources told The Examiner.

It marks a swift collapse of a relationship between Lanier and her technology czar, brought in part by a rift with the mayor's own tech leaders, sources said. Hudnall couldn't be reached for comment.

Sources familiar with his firing said that Hudnall clashed with the mayor's technology office repeatedly on questions of budget and technological priorities. Things came to a head over an attempt by the mayor's tech bureaucrats to install a wireless Internet router in the police building that's home to the city's homicide bureau.

Hudnall argued that the connection was illegal because it potentially exposed the homicide detective's files to outsiders. When the mayor's tech bureaucrats complained to Lanier, Hudnall was fired, sources said. Neither Lanier nor Attorney General Peter Nickles responded to requests for comment.

Lanier has promised to update the dated technology of the police department, which until a few years ago was still writing reports using carbon paper. Under Hudnall, the department was slowly joining the modern era of police work. In 2007, for instance, Hudnall secured some $5.2 million to put wireless laptops in police cruisers. The measure won praise from Fenty, who praised "the use of technology to be more efficient so officers can spend more time on the street fighting crime." In February, Lanier gave Hudnall a medal as an "outstanding bureau employee" for his efforts.

"Travis has worked long and hard. ... He never gave up on his vision," Lanier said in Hudnall's citation.

"There is still much to be done, but under Mr. Hudnall's leadership, [the department] is making leaps and bounds in its use of technology as additional law enforcement tool."

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