County police school to move to Dundalk Community College Change expected to save $1 million, help campus

November 14, 1996|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County's police training academy will be moved from its aging facility on Parkwood Road in Dundalk to the enrollment-strapped Dundalk Community College, under a plan being announced today by police department and college officials.

The move, to begin with the June 1997 class of about 60 recruits, is intended to secure the future of Dundalk Community College and is expected to save the Police Department more than $1 million in renovation costs at the old academy, officials say.

"I think this is a win-win situation," said County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger. "It addresses the utilization of the college, fulfills a need that we have for a new police facility, saves us some money and deals with the issue of Dundalk's future."

Though enrollment at all three of the county's community colleges has dropped in recent years, Dundalk has suffered the most -- with a 7.5 percent drop this fall.

In April, some County Council members, critical of how the $79 million the county annually provides the three colleges is spent, discussed merging Dundalk with the Essex Community College campus six miles away.

Because most of the 3,200 Dundalk students attend night classes, the buildings and equipment there are mostly unused during the day, when police recruits will be in class.

"This is a fairly good marriage here, a good fit," said Felix T. Haynes, college president. "I think it definitely strengthens Dundalk."

Ruppersberger has targeted the Dundalk and Essex areas for economic revitalization designed to bring jobs to older neighborhoods, and some residents say losing the community college would damage an economically hard-hit area.

"The college is the education hub and heart of the community," said Tom Toporvich, retired secretary to the Baltimore County Council and a man known around town as the unofficial mayor of Dundalk. "It is an affordable alternative for people who cannot afford to immediately go to a four-year university."

For the Police Department, the move means the difference between spending $2.2 million to renovate the current academy and spending $600,000 to move the academy to the college.

The academy, the former Gray Manor Elementary School, has poor lighting and aging classrooms. It has been the site for training since 1981.

Shortly after Chief Terrence B. Sheridan took over the department in April, he appointed a four-member assessment team to study the academy's curriculum and look for ways to improve the equipment and facilities there.

The team -- made up of a Johns Hopkins University instructor, a law enforcement consultant, a management consultant from Northrop Grumman Corp. and a civilian aide to the chief -- recommended in September that the academy be moved to the college.

"This gets us out of an old and aging building and into a modern facility where we can take advantage of new technology, such as computers, and have access to the Internet," Sheridan said. "Also, this is a good environment for learning that will encourage VTC recruits to get their associate degree and then go on to get their bachelor's degree."

Pub Date: 11/14/96

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