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Sally port sought for Washington Co. Courthouse

Area would protect inmates and corrections officers

Area would protect inmates and corrections officers

February 08, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Washington County and City of Hagerstown officials are working on a plan that could cost as much as $900,000 to build an enclosure where prisoners being taken into the Washington County Courthouse would be dropped off.

Joseph Kroboth III, county public works director, said the proposal involves placing gates on each end of an alley that borders the courthouse to the south. A prison van would enter from Summit Avenue through one of the gates, which would close behind the van.

Kroboth said the county is waiting for city officials to approve a plan that would be aesthetically compatible with Hagerstown's historic architecture. In other words, the city would rather have something such as a brick entryway to the alley than a fence and razor wire, he said.

A majority of the funding for the project would come from the Washington County Sheriff's Department operational budget, Kroboth said. State grants would pay about $110,000 of the total cost for the installation of security cameras.

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Kroboth said city and county officials are to meet soon to discuss the project further.

Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore said it's "by the grace of God" that no one has been injured under the current prisoner drop-off system. As it stands, prisoners are driven into the alley and ushered into the courthouse. There is nothing stopping someone on the street from attacking a guard or a prisoner, he said.

"That's not the way to do that in this day and age," Mullendore said. "It's imperative that we have the sally port to ... protect inmates from irate family members and correction officers from gang members."

Hagerstown City Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he would support the proposal.

"I will certainly be willing to allow the county and sheriff's department to do whatever is necessary to improve security there," he said.

If everything goes well, the project could begin this spring and be completed in the fall, Kroboth said.

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