The wrong side of the law

Dear Ace: Where does the Charlottesville Police Department get those cars with the driver’s side on the right? Do they come
from England?—Britt Wheeler

Britt: Sometimes the simplest questions are the hardest ones to answer. That’s what Ace found out when, after multiple calls to various locations, the best response he got was: “Y’know, that’s a good question.” Ace hates to sound like a middle schooler, but, at the time, only one word sprung to mind: duh.

First Ace called his friendly neighborhood police department. Not knowing the answer, they directed Ace to the sergeant’s office. Ace called there. They, too, did not know the answer. But they took a guess, which Ace appreciated—the cars aren’t bought locally, but rather through state contracts, they said—and told Ace to call “Glassman,” the fleet manager.

At this point, it was all very smoke and mirrors. The fleet manager with only one name answered the phone—just “Glassman,” of course—and Ace stated his purpose. “Hang on a sec,” Glassman told him, and Ace listened as the man on the other end of the phone carried on a conversation with someone in his office. After three solid minutes and a (potentially sincere) apology for his rudeness, Glassman explained to Ace that he couldn’t be of much help either. He knew they came from a Jeep dealer and that they weren’t getting any more, but not much beyond that.

Glassman gave Ace the number of one Tricia Davis at the city yard. Tricia told Ace that the cars were purchased by state contract from a company called Battlefield Ford, which deals with new and preowned cars, trucks and SUVs. And vehicles made by Jeep, including those funny right-driver’s-sided cars you’ve been wondering about, Britt. Because the state handles all of the purchasing of the vehicles, the supplier could change at any time.

Surprise! They don’t come from England, but rather from a dealer right here in our fair city. Go figure.

You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 18 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to ace@c-ville.com.

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