Ground broken at site of new police barracks $3 million facility in Westminster set for state's busiest troopers

May 19, 1998|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend joined state and local officials yesterday in breaking ground for a new Maryland State Police barracks in Westminster.

Col. David B. Mitchell, superintendent of the Maryland State Police, drew chuckles from a gathering of nearly 100 people when he said that his troops had "not simply outgrown the current barracks, they have worn it out."

The $3 million, state-of-the-art facility will replace the 37-year-old building on Route 140 and provide troopers with additional space for 115-member staff. The Westminster barracks are the busiest in the state, officials say.

State Treasurer Richard N. Dixon said the project, which has been in the works for several years, was delayed briefly by the late state Sen. William H. Amoss, a veteran Harford County legislator who was vice chairman of the influential Budget and Taxation Committee.

Dixon, a Carroll County resident and a former state delegate, said he was looking out for the county's interests when he asked Amoss to stop insisting that Carroll contribute $300,000 to the project.

Dixon drew laughs when he told of reminding Amoss that Harford County had not contributed to the new barracks completed in Bel Air last year.

"He was looking out for Harford County then, and I was just looking out for Carroll County," Dixon said of Amoss, who died in October of a rare blood disease.

Yesterday marked Townsend's second visit to Carroll County in as many months. She helped kick off a 19-point statewide strategy to curb the spread of heroin, especially among teen-age users, at South Carroll High School.

During an hourlong ceremony yesterday, Townsend said she had just toured the barracks and was amazed that troopers had managed to to do their job and do it well with so little space.

Mitchell said Westminster's troopers proved they were the busiest in the state last year, responding to nearly 42,000 calls for service, including 1,665 criminal arrests, 442 driving while intoxicated arrests, and more than 32,000 traffic citations and warnings issued.

The staff of civilian and resident troopers will continue to work from the old barracks for about 14 months until construction is completed, said Lt. Leonard Armstrong, commander of the Westminster barracks.

Mitchell took the occasion to say that by July 1, state police troops will number 1,615, and "be back to full strength."

About 80 of those are resident troopers assigned to the Westminster barracks.

The resident trooper program, which costs Carroll taxpayers about $3.4 million annually, operates under an agreement with the state to provide countywide law enforcement, investigative services and assistance to five municipal police forces and the county Sheriff's Department.

Seventeen of 18 contractors bidding on construction of the new barracks were from Maryland, state police said.

On May 28, the state Board of Public Works will award the contract to TGMI Contractors of Cockeysville.

The new barracks will have a state-of-the-art communications center, holding cells, a prisoner processing area, dormitory rooms and public waiting area.

The communications room will be three times larger than the current 10-by-12-foot area, space that will be invaluable when the state police eventually switch to an 800-megahertz radio system.

As soon as the barracks open next summer, the old building will be torn down to make way for a full-service Motor Vehicle Administration office.

Pub Date: 5/19/98

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