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911 center should be ready in six months

Central Booking facility to be operational by next year

Central Booking facility to be operational by next year

June 09, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- The Consolidated 911 Dispatch Center and several other long-awaited safety-service projects in Washington County should be fully functional within the next six months.

On Tuesday, Sheriff Douglas Mullendore, Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith and Kevin Lewis, director of Emergency Services for Washington County, gave the Hagerstown City Council a progress report on the 911 center and other projects.

Lewis said county employees will spend July and August training at the $26.5 million center on Elliott Parkway to prepare for its September opening.

The center will allow residents who call 911 to stay on the line with a single dispatcher throughout the call, Lewis said.

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As it stands, callers are transferred among the Maryland State Police, the Washington County Sheriff's Office, the Hagerstown Police Department and the county's fire and emergency medical services until the right agency is found.

Mullendore said the 911 center, which has been in the works for about seven years, also includes a new radio system that will allow safety-service personnel from across the county and other jurisdictions to communicate in real time.

Currently, police, firefighters and rescue personnel from different agencies do not have a direct line of communication.

Smith said the Central Booking facility at the Washington County Detention Center should be fully operational by the beginning of 2010.

The facility will allow Hagerstown police officers to save time, Smith said, by reducing the number of steps they have to follow during an arrest.

Smith said before prisoners are taken to the detention center, they have to go to the police department for booking and then to Washington County District Court to appear before a court commissioner.

The Central Booking facility will cut the process into one step.

"There will be no more transfers," Smith said. "There will be no more driving around."

Smith said he estimated that officers could save about two hours per arrest, which will give them more time to patrol the streets.

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