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Looking ahead to '07 session

April 13, 2006

The legislative session just completed may have been a disaster when we consider all the partisan shenanigans that took place, but for the Washington County delegation, it was a good year.

The delegation managed to secure $5 million in school-construction money, $400,000 for an expansion of the Hagerstown YMCA and $250,000 for the proposed stadium for North Hagerstown High School.

Just as important, the delegation also landed $94,000 in planning money for a central booking agency.

The central booking facility was proposed in February 2000 by Hagerstown's Board of Public Safety, whose members said that if police could take suspects to a facility where a court commissioner was stationed around-the clock, then officers could return to law-enforcement duties more quickly.

The following summer Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith supported the idea, saying that such a facility would be the biggest factor in decreasing police overtime.

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But the project has had some setbacks over the years. In February 2003, a month after the County Commissioners said they were making it one of their four-year initiatives, it was cut from the county's capital budget.

There have also been questions about how Hagerstown and the county governments would share costs.

In our view, the merits of getting police back on the street more quickly after arrests should inspire more cooperation. We urge city, state and county officials to make this a priority in 2007, for the safety of the public.

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