Troopers in Westminster getting room to spread out

Soon-to-open barracks to aid security, efficiency

June 08, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Visitors to the new state police barracks in Westminster, which opens next month, will notice a striking difference, beginning in the spacious foyer inside the front entrance.

Straight ahead will sit a duty officer, who no longer will share cramped space with two communications dispatchers, said Lt. Terry Katz, barracks commander in Westminster. Katz joined William Ebert, a civilian capital projects engineer for the Maryland State Police, on a preview tour of the $3.1 million building last month.

The new building, with 12,100 square feet, is about a third larger than the old barracks, which serves about 115 troopers, civilian staff members and volunteers who make up the county's primary police agency.

Dispatchers will work in a separate, soundproof communications room with two computer-aided consoles that geographically pinpoint precise locations for any address entered on the keyboards. The dispatchers will have immediate access to the duty officer but will not be distracted by incoming phone calls when they are busy, Katz said.

Also within sight and hearing of the duty officer are two holding cells, a processing room and troopers' mailboxes. The duty officer can electronically control and monitor a locked rear entrance, and will be able to see via closed-circuit camera who wants to enter.

"The sightline design is not by accident," Ebert said. "The entire building is incredibly efficient as a workplace."

To the left of the foyer is a conference room with a capacity of 40 people for police or community meetings.

To the right of the foyer are administrative offices, including those for the barracks commander, regional state police staff and first sergeants, a records room and a bright, airy office for civilian support staff.

Corporals -- two are on duty for each shift -- will have office space, as will members of allied agencies who might stop at the barracks to write reports or make phone calls.

A large office for troopers at the rear of the building is designed with six workstations for report writing and investigative duties.

"They have ready access to electrical outlets to plug in laptop computers, print reports, download copies to disks, and be out the door and back on patrol," Katz said.

"It's not comfy and cozy, but bright and functional," she said.

Ebert said, "Unlike the old barracks, the new one-story barracks is accessible to the disabled."

In the old barracks, troopers had to find space to write reports wherever they could, often in a basement room used for meetings, breaks, eating lunch and interviewing suspects.

"The tiny kitchen off that room could only be reached by interrupting a meeting or whatever was occurring in that room," Katz said.

After the troopers' move into the new barracks, tentatively set for July 10, the old barracks will be demolished. A driveway will be completed, and construction is expected to begin by fall on a new Motor Vehicle Administration facility just to the east of the current barracks.

Pub Date: 6/08/99

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