New Arundel county executive to get armed police bodyguard Owens says official made threats during campaign

December 10, 1998|By Kirsten Scharnberg | Kirsten Scharnberg,SUN STAFF

In an unprecedented move for Anne Arundel County, Executive Janet S. Owens has hired an armed police bodyguard to chauffeur her around in the county's new $25,000 Ford Crown Victoria.

Owens, who has said that while running for office she was "harassed, threatened and told to go no place alone," will be protected by a 19-year veteran of the Anne Arundel police force. Although she has refused to name names, Owens has indicated she received threats against her family from an elected Democratic official during her campaign this fall.

"These aren't changing times, they are changed times," said Andrew C. Carpenter, Owens' spokesman. "This county executive wants to be extremely accessible to the public, sometimes from 8 in the morning until 10 at night, and to do that there is clearly some concern for safety."

Carpenter refused to link the increased security to the fact that Owens is the first woman to hold the county's top position.

There is ample evidence of increased security concerns in the political arena.

In Prince George's County, the county executive has been trailed by police officers for more than a decade. In Baltimore, a 14-person Executive Protection Unit is responsible for the safety of the mayor and the staff at City Hall. The Baltimore County executive has two full-time police officers who alternate shifts and stay with him when he leaves home.

Montgomery County officials are considering hiring officers to protect their highest-ranking politician, who has received death threats.

Maryland's governors have long had security details that number into the dozens of officers and cost taxpayers well over $1 million annually.

Pub Date: 12/10/98

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