Speakout

SPEAKOUT

December 31, 2006

ISSUE: -- Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold, who has moved to cut spending in his first weeks in office, plans to continue using a police security detail that costs at least $125,000 a year.

During the fall campaign, Leopold took a skeptical stance on the use by his predecessor, Janet S. Owens, of police officers to drive her and provide protection. Since then, he said, the outgoing police chief, P. Thomas Shanahan, and the incoming chief, James Teare Sr., persuaded him to continue using the security detail.

Some question whether a county executive needs more security than U.S. senators and representatives, especially when the Police Department's ranks are down. But others say that a security detail frees up executives to work while traveling, protects them from angry constituents and disgruntled employees, and enables them to respond quickly to emergencies.

A matter of security, not convenience

For the past eight years, the police department has provided executive protection to the county executive, a small detail consisting of one to two detectives per day, who are currently assigned to the department's Intelligence Unit.

When these detectives are not providing security, they are assigned other duties such as tracking hate crimes and gang activities in the county.

The main purpose of providing security to the county executive is to ensure the continuity of government. This is a matter of security, not convenience.

In addition to personal protection, the detail provides day-to-day travel planning, arrangements and transportation. This is a time-saving matter that allows the county executive to safely and efficiently prepare and conduct business while traveling to and from locations.

In today's society, we are required to take appropriate notice and precaution. Workplace violence has been a problem throughout our county and will conceivably continue to be a concern. In the past, disgruntled employees and unhappy constituents have posed safety and security concerns to government officials.

In addition, the Baltimore-Washington corridor is a potential target for terrorist activity. Such issues are constantly monitored and handled by a law enforcement security detail.

We have a combined 58 years of law enforcement experience and fully support and strongly recommended that Mr. Leopold continue with this detail.

The agency is dedicated to providing this significant service without compromising other police services to the citizens of Anne Arundel County.

P. Thomas Shanahan (The writer is through today the chief of the Anne Arundel County Police Department.)

James Teare Sr. (The writer is the chief as of tomorrow.

Leopold needs security, drivers

Mr. Leopold requires security and drivers. He is the CEO of a billion-dollar business with over 4,200 employees and over a half-million citizens to serve.

Our world has changed in the past 20 years. The executive job is now an around-the-clock job. I would rather have Mr. Leopold reading or solving citizen issues as a passenger in a vehicle.

Let's follow the advice of experts like Teare and Shanahan.

Wally Campbell

Severna Park

Driver unnecessary for executive

The county executive does not need police protection. The real question is: Does the county executive need a chauffeur?

A chauffeur is a real nice perk at taxpayers' expense. It is absolutely unnecessary.

The actual cost is the cost of the vehicle, maintenance, insurance, chauffeur salary and overtime - quite a bit more than $125,000 a year.

Charles Eisenberger Brooklyn Park

Posse keeps executive in cocoon

How surprising is it that two police chiefs would recommend a security detail? The jobs provide security to the favored few policemen.

As to the suggestion of protection against constituents and employees as well as responding to emergencies, free up the police and their presence may not be needed.

Hear from the people, drive and feel the roads. Stop for a cup of coffee without a posse.

Don't resort to a cocoon.

Scott J. Weber Glen Burnie

Protective detail is prudent choice

Mr. Leopold is prudent to heed the advice of public safety professionals.

The purpose of a protective detail is to maintain a secure environment for Mr. Leopold so that he can devote his full time and attention to the administration of county business.

Given the level of violence in this country, a protective detail for him is absolutely necessary.

William E. Breen

Millersville

The writer is a retired special agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

Money could be better spent

Let me count the ways $500,000 of taxpayer dollars can be better spent than providing security (a chauffeur) for Leopold during his four years in office.

Hiring more police officers to patrol neighborhoods thus deterring rising gang violence, property crimes and murders in AA County is one.

Funding more firefighter/paramedic slots to respond to valid life threatening situations, that's two.

Hiring more teachers to address the influx of newbies to West County due to BRAC - four.

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