Report of Suspicious Activity Leads to Executive's Vehicle

After a passerby calls authorities about possible sex in a car in the parking lot of an Anne Arundel mall, an officer finds the county executive in the back seat -- but doesn't find anything improper. Video by Anne Arundel County Police
By William Wan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 12, 2009

An Anne Arundel County police officer responding to an anonymous 911 call reporting possible sexual activity in a parked car arrived to find County Executive John R. Leopold in the back seat, authorities said yesterday.

The officer called the dispatcher shortly afterward to say the original report was "unfounded," but neither police nor Leopold would provide further details about why he was in the back or whether anyone was with him.

Leopold said yesterday that police found "absolutely nothing improper" at his official car in the parking lot of busy Westfield Annapolis Mall on Jan. 30. He dismissed the matter as "rumors and gossip."

Word of the 911 call has been spreading though the political world in Annapolis, which is the county seat as well as the state capital. In response to requests from reporters, county police released a recording of phone calls to the county's 911 emergency office as well as radio transmissions between the police dispatcher and the patrol officer who investigated the incident.

Police officials said that Leopold's security detail was not with him at the mall and that no written report was made because the officer reported the 911 call as unfounded. Officials would not make the investigating officer available to reporters, and Police Chief James Teare Sr. declined to comment.

Leopold (R), 66, a first-term county executive who is not married, and his spokesman also declined to answer questions from reporters.

His office issued a statement from him that said: "As a public official it is unfortunate to have to respond to rumors and gossip. I have been asked to respond to an allegation from an anonymous caller that was found to have no merit. The police acted within minutes and found absolutely nothing improper. I will not dignify this matter with further comment."

According to police records, the 911 call came in at 5:37 p.m. "I see some activity going on in the car, and I don't think it's proper. . . . It looks like sexual activity to me," the male caller said and later added, "I'm not positive, but it looks like there's naked people in the car."

The dispatch records show that the officer arrived near the scene at 5:43 p.m. and eventually found the car.

On the recording, the officer identified the black Chevrolet Impala as the county executive's and later said, "County executive himself in the back seat." At 5:46 p.m., the dispatch recorded the report as "unfounded."

The county executive's office confirmed that the car was Leopold's government-issued vehicle, identifiable by license plates he acquired shortly after taking office: "County Executive 1."

The 911 call came from a phone number listed as the general number for the Nordstrom store at the mall, according to police records. Security employees there said they had no knowledge of the event.

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

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