Cedar Knoll Begins Security Talks

March 20, 1992|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Staff writer

Area law enforcement agencies met with Cedar Knoll officials Wednesday to begin hammering out a plan to handle future escapes from the Washington-owned facility in Laurel.

"I think that everyone there was very encouraged," said Nancy Hill, an aide to state Del. Tyras S. Athey, D-Jessup. "There was a lot of enthusiasm there and purpose."

The two-hour meeting at county police headquarters in Millersville focused on the center's impact on the surrounding community. It wascalled after 14 youths escaped from the site last month.

County police Major William Donoho said that although no changes resulted from the meeting, another meeting is planned in about a month. Donoho said he hopes a final plan for communication between the three police agencies in the area, the community and Cedar Knoll officials will be completed by the summer.

"We are very sensitive to the needs of the community," he said. "And that is the catalyst for these meetings."

Some of the 176 boys between the ages of 14 and 20 at Cedar Knollare awaiting trial, while others are serving time after convictions.

There is no fence surrounding the 22-acre facility.

Residents in the surrounding communities of Maryland City and Jessup say they are not notified when there is an escape. After one escape, an escapeeassaulted a Jessup woman and stole her car.

One option to notify residents is a loud whistle or siren, Donoho said.

"It would have to be put in a geographic location that would be able to be heard in all the communities," he said. "It would signal to the community thatthere is a problem."

Law enforcement officers also will have to work out a better system of communication between county, state, U.S. Park Police and Cedar Knoll officials following an escape.

"We arebeing notified late," Donoho said. "As late as 18 minutes to an hourafter the escape."

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