Troopers getting spacious quarters

Soon-to-open barracks designed to improve security, efficiency

12,100 square feet

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."

Meeting room holds 40

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.

"Rather than interrupt a meeting, troopers often would skip lunch or go out for it."

Drop protects evidence

Just inside a rear door, where staff members will enter, is a gun-lock case and a drop safe, used to deposit evidence that must be kept secure, such as narcotics seized in a raid.

Troopers can secure weapons in a lock box, drop off evidence and proceed with prisoners directly to the processing room and holding cells.

The new building also has two rooms for housing juveniles away from adult prisoners, as required by law.

In the rear of the new barracks, in addition to storage areas and a furnace room, is a small dormitory room to allow six or eight troopers to stay overnight in inclement weather.

"Occasionally, a trooper will be transferred in and needs a place to spend the night until housing arrangements can be made," Katz said. "There also are two small private bedrooms that can be used for male or female boarders."

A physical fitness room with shower is available for those who want to work out before or after duty, he said.

The front left quadrant of the new building will be used by criminal investigators, allowing easy access to files, a polygraph room and rooms for interviewing suspects.

200-vehicle garage

Behind the barracks and nearly completed is a 4,350-square-foot garage. It is twice as large as the old garage and has a capacity of about 200 vehicles, including those of state fire marshals, troopers living in Carroll County but assigned elsewhere and vehicles for special units, such as the drug task force and the automotive safety division.

After the troopers' move into the new barracks, 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.

"It's smart growth, using the property for two state facilities," Ebert said.

Pub Date: 6/08/99

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