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Central booking gets nixed

A central bookinf facility at the Washington County Detention Center is not part of the county's proposed 2004-2009 capital budg

A central bookinf facility at the Washington County Detention Center is not part of the county's proposed 2004-2009 capital budg

February 26, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Washington County's proposed 2004-2009 capital budget does not include money for a central booking facility at the Washington County Detention Center.

The Washington County Commissioners said in December they were interested in serious discussions about central booking.

Last month, they said setting up a central booking center was one of their four-year initiatives.

But the proposed facility did not make the five-year $219.8 million capital improvement plan for a lack of state, county and city funding, the plan states. The cost of the facility was listed as almost $3.6 million.

The commissioners are in the process of discussing the five-year capital plan, which was put together by staff members.

"I'm obviously disappointed," Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said Tuesday.

Area police agencies support a central booking facility, saying it would speed up the arrest process. Such a center would free law enforcement officers from processing arrests and get them back on the streets faster.

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Washington County Sheriff Charles F. Mades has said correctional employees would process the arrests.

Smith has said a central booking facility would shave about two hours off arrests for city police officers. The Hagerstown Police Department made about 4,000 arrests last year.

Renovations to the detention center and eight new employees would be needed to get a central booking facility up and running.

Smith said Tuesday that police officials were in the process of finding other methods to pay for a facility.

Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell questioned the priorities of the capital budget after hearing about plans to spend $725,000 to repair a dam at Devil's Backbone Park on Lappans Road.

"I have a real concern with this project," Wivell said of spending money proposed for the dam repair, "when we should be looking at central booking."

Wivell said the county has, in the past, put off fixing dams in need of repairs.

Director of Public Works Gary Rohrer said work on the 150-year-old Devil's Backbone dam is necessary because it's in bad shape and "looks like Swiss cheese."

He said there's no telling when the dam could give out.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said if the dam fails, it might cause problems for municipalities, including Funkstown and Hagerstown.

In other capital budget discussions, Dennis McGee, director of facilities management for the Washington County Board of Education, told the commissioners he might request an additional $300,000 in construction money for renovations to Salem Avenue Elementary School.

McGee said state funding for the project was short $300,000, money that was intended to go toward all-day kindergarten and pre-kindergarten classrooms.

He said he has appealed the funding decision to the state, and said there's a good chance he'll succeed.

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