University system, city police sign deal that benefits both

September 17, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS


Hagerstown City Police will have more space for police training and a new home for bicycle-patrol officers while future University System of Maryland at Hagerstown students, faculty and staff will have more security and peace of mind under an agreement signed Thursday, officials said.

"We're moving one step closer to opening the doors to this place," said David Warner, University System of Maryland at Hagerstown executive director, after the agreement was signed.

The memorandum of understanding signed by Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner and Frostburg State University President Catherine Gira puts in place several ideas that had been under discussion for several months, as work on the university system building continues.


The University System of Maryland at Hagerstown is scheduled to open in January.

Frostburg State University is one of the schools that will offer programs at the West Washington Street campus, and is coordinating operations there.

The Western Maryland Police Academy, which recently ran out of a space rented on North Potomac Street, will receive office space in the new building and be able to use classrooms free of charge, Hagerstown City Police Chief Arthur Smith said.

Smith said the city police department also will receive free office space in the new university system building for its downtown police squad, which has been using the same space as the police academy.

The new office will be on the first floor of the university system building, facing West Washington Street, and will have a door opening onto University Plaza, a neighboring park under construction, Smith said.

Smith said the added police presence will be noticeable.

"It's just a lot of extra police activity downtown, which can't hurt," Smith said.

In return, city police will patrol the building and an adjacent parking lot and will monitor campus emergency phones if they are installed. Police cannot use the substation as a holding area for prisoners or suspects under the agreement, although there will be space for an interview room if arrests are made.

Police cadets from Frostburg State University, which has its own police department, will attend the Western Maryland Police Academy for free.

The agreement runs through June 2006, but there are options to renew and amend it.

After the ceremony, City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said the agreement is just one of several steps taken to bring the university system to downtown Hagerstown.

"No question, the mayor and council have long viewed the university center as the top priority for downtown revitalization projects ... This is a major project for us," Zimmerman said.

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