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County, city to discuss plan for central booking

October 25, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Commissioners will meet with the Hagerstown City Council in the next several weeks to create a plan to open a central booking facility for area police agencies, commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said Friday.

The meeting was prompted by a request from Sheriff Charles F. Mades that the County Commissioners support a state bond bill that would pay for the facility, which would be at the Washington County Detention Center.

Snook said that before the commissioners could support the bond bill, they would need more details on how much the facility would cost to build and operate.

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"We need to have a full plan in place before we start asking for money," Snook said at the meeting.

The request for the bond bill would be made to the Washington County Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly.

Area police agencies support a central booking facility, which they say would speed up the arrest process and get officers back on the streets faster.

The Detention Center would have to be renovated and eight correctional officers hired, officials have said. The correctional employees would process the arrests, freeing law enforcement officers from that duty.

Snook said Friday he thought the facility would cost less than $2 million.

The commissioners are also considering supporting the following legislative proposals:

n Joining Hagerstown in seeking a $500,000 grant for a new parking deck on South Potomac Street to serve the Arts & Entertainment District and University System of Maryland Hagerstown Education System.

n Having $8 million in state aid for the Hagerstown Regional Airport runway extension broken down in increments to lessen the cost of financing for the project. Under the county proposal, $3 million would be distributed in fiscal year 2004, $3 million in fiscal year 2005 and $2 million in fiscal year 2006.

n Hiring a fifth Washington County Circuit Court judge.

Snook said this week the commissioners would have to hear more details from the city before deciding whether to support the parking deck proposal.

Commissioner John C. Munson said there's enough parking downtown, and he wouldn't support a grant for the new deck.

"I would never go along with that," Munson said. "After a while, you're going to have so much parking downtown you're not going to have room for buildings."

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