Arundel gets new rides for Leopold detail
Anne Arundel County recently purchased three new SUVs for $80,000 and two of the vehicles will replace the small fleet of county-owned vehicles that County Executive John R. Leopold and his security detail drive.
The three 2011 Ford Expeditions will replace similar, older-model vehicles that were assigned to the police and fire departments and to Leopold and the security detail as part of a “normal replacement cycle,” Leopold’s spokesman Dave Abrams said Tuesday. The vehicles were ordered late last year and arrived in the county in April – before the County Council in May voted to prohibit the Police and Fire Departments from purchasing any new vehicles – but have not been used because they are being outfitted with emergency equipment
Leopold typically has three county-owned vehicles at his disposal: a Chevrolet Impala, which he drives on a daily basis; a Ford Expedition assigned to the police bureau overseeing his executive protection unit; and a third Expedition that is assigned to the Fire Department, but serves as a spare for Leopold’s use.
Two of the new Expeditions – which cost the county $28, 582 each – are assigned to the county Fire Department and one will be used as a spare vehicle for Leopold if the others are not available. The other, a slightly more expensive Expedition XL that cost $29,245 replaces a 2006 Ford Expedition that the county paid $26,410 for, and which county officials said has $112,000 miles and has had $7,200 work of maintenance performed on it in the last year-and-a-half.
“The county executive is going to be very rarely using this vehicle,” said Abrams Tuesday. “It is going to be on standby for inclement weather.”
Leopold, who does not own his own private vehicles and acknowledges using the car for personal errands, has paid taxes on his use of the Impala for the last four years, according to his staff. While he typically drives the Impala, Leopold frequently used one of the two SUVs at his disposal when he was campaigning for re-election and also while he was recuperating from two separate back surgeries last year.
Leopold’s use of county vehicles briefly became a campaign issue when his Democratic opponent criticized him for driving “multiple gas-guzzling vehicles and [using] police officers to transport him around.”. At the time, county Police Chief Col. James Teare Sr., said the vehicle arrangement was “customary and very appropriate.”