Panel recommends police academy relocation Plan would move facility to Dundalk college site

August 20, 1996|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

A four-member Baltimore County police assessment team is recommending that the department's training academy be moved from its location in a former elementary school to the Dundalk Community College campus.

"We want this to happen, but we want it to happen in the right way," said Gerard R. Murphy, assessment team member and civilian aide to Chief Terrence B. Sheridan. "But there are many logistical issues to work out before it can be done."

Sheridan, who took over the department four months ago, asked for the assessment to help him become more familiar with his department, including the academy on Parkwood Road in Dundalk.

The team -- which also includes a Johns Hopkins University instructor, a law enforcement consultant and a management consultant from Northrop Grumman Corp. -- is to submit its recommendations in a written report to Sheridan by the end of the month.

Sheridan and department officials favor moving the academy to the college because they say it would give recruits access to such resources as the school's computer and video laboratories and instructors, Murphy said.

The move also would give the department a means to recruit officers from the student body.

"When you think about it, a police academy is an adult academic environment and so is a community college," said Joseph N. McGowen, civilian director of the training academy. "So it makes sense to put the two together."

Although the department does not require officers to have a college degree, Murphy said exposing recruits to campus life and classes would encourage them to continue their education.

Academy graduates receive 28 college credits for eight months of work.

"We would like them to have some college under their belt," Murphy said. "We don't have a set policy on it, but that is the general road we are going down, the same as many other large departments."

Murphy said moving the academy to the college presents many problems, such as what space would be available, the location of classrooms and what would be done on snowy days when the college might be closed -- considering that the academy is open regardless of weather.

McGowen said one recruit class next spring may be held at the college to see how it enhances the training program.

"We are really excited about the prospects of this project," said Deborah M. Hudson, spokeswoman for the county community colleges. "But it's not a done deal yet. We are looking forward to the final proposal."

The community colleges at Catonsville, Essex and Dundalk are undergoing a reorganization amid tight budget constraints, and a new program on campus would be a boost for Dundalk, smallest of the three.

Murphy said the final report to the chief is likely to include a recommendation to increase civilian support staff at the academy.

The assessment team also will review procedures and staffing in the aviation and traffic units as well as the 911 communication center, he said.

Pub Date: 8/20/96

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