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Drug fines to help pay for new police building

February 03, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

When the new classroom/office building is relocated at the new Hagerstown City Police firing range near the Edgemont Reservoir, it might well be called The House that Drugs Built.

The cost of purchase, transportation and remodeling of the building is being funded through drug forfeitures and confiscations, said Sgt. Mark Holtzman, director of the Washington County Narcotics Task Force.

The task force board of directors recently approved the use of the forfeiture money for the trailer, its refurbishing and setup on the new site. Those funds are earmarked for police equipment and supplies.

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"It's a used, double-wide trailer we got for just $5,000," Holtzman said. The total cost of moving it to the site from its current location near Huyetts, site preparation, a new roof, skirting, a floor and a porch should be about $10,000.

Currently, city police and Washington County Sheriff's deputies share firing range facilities a short distance from where the new range will be, Holtzman said.

"We have a much smaller trailer at that location but it has fallen into disrepair," he said.

The new site was developed several years ago when the City of Hagerstown was making some improvements at the reservoir.

"There was a little money left over after the new communications tower was erected, so we graveled the road then and made a parking area," Holtzman said.

When the members of the quick response teams had some free time, they erected guardrails. Now there is a pistol range and a 200-yard rifle range, something few police agencies have, Holtzman said.

Police officers must spend time on the firing range at least four times a year and qualify at least once a year to maintain their proficiency.

The office inside the new building will be available to all police who use the site. The classroom will be useful for many educational activities, but it will also be nice being able to get inside when it's rainy, snowy or cold on firearm qualifying days, Holtzman said.

"There will also be heat in this building, plus a regular telephone," Holtzman said. "We'll need that telephone because our cellular telephones and police radios don't work at the new range."

He hopes the building will be operational by March. Before that happens, more site work must be done and several trees will have to come down so the building can be brought to the site.

Additional drug money will go for a new night vision camera for NTF agents to use on their drug surveillance operations, Holtzman said.

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