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Ground broken on central booking facility

March 10, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- City, county and state officials attended a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday for a central booking facility at the Washington County Detention Center that will streamline arrests in the county starting early next year.

As officials tossed their ceremonial shovelfuls of dirt, crews were already at work on renovations to existing office and classroom space that will be used for administration of the booking facility. The entire project should be completed by the end of the year, Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore said.

The $2.88 million project is being funded 50 percent by Washington County and 50 percent through the state's capital improvement program, Mullendore said.

"Central booking will provide a more efficient means of using our law enforcement resources than we have in the past," Mullendore said at the ceremony.

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Now, when law enforcement officers make an arrest, they have to take the person back to their agency's headquarters, then to Washington County District Court for an arraignment, and often from there to the Washington County Detention Center, Mullendore said.

With central booking, officers will have to transport the person only once, Mullendore said. That will allow the officer to be back on the street within 35 to 45 minutes instead of three or four hours, which is how long it takes now, he said.

"The ultimate goal is to put our police officers back on the street faster, have them doing patrol, as opposed to sitting at HPD or here at the sheriff's department doing paperwork," said Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II.

Bruchey and Washington County Commissioners President John F. Barr thanked those who supported the central booking facility and lobbied for state funds.

"This cooperative effort from the state, the county, the city, the business community, is unparalleled throughout the state," Barr said.

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