Central booking goes into operation

Sheriff aims to save time, place officers back on patrol sooner

One-stop process

Department in line to receive state grants for more equipment

January 04, 2000|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Making good yesterday on his resolution for the new year, Carroll County Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning announced the start of central booking, a one-stop location where arrested suspects can be identified, charged and, if need be, incarcerated.

The sheriff, who took command 13 months ago, had promised to begin central booking to help return police officers to patrol as quickly as possible after they make arrests.

The process for each arrest -- fingerprinting, completing a statement of charges, transporting the suspect to a District Court commissioner to determine bail and, if warranted, to the county jail in Westminster -- can tie up an officer for two or more hours.

Tregoning's staff began a modified process yesterday, accepting suspects from municipal agencies in Taneytown, Hampstead, Manchester and Sykesville as well as from the state fire marshal's office, Department of Natural Resources, Springfield Hospital Center and the sheriff's road patrol deputies.

In a typical year, nearly 6,000 suspects are booked by the county law enforcement agencies, Tregoning said.

Based on data from five or six other state jurisdictions, said Tregoning, "our central booking operation should get officers back on the street within about 30 minutes from the time they arrive here with an arrestee."

The bulk of the annual arrests in Carroll County -- about 5,500 -- are made by state troopers from the Westminster barracks, Westminster police officers and sheriff's deputies.

For now, state troopers and Westminster police will not be using central booking, but Tregoning said they will as soon as, or perhaps before, the modified version becomes automated.

Ready for grants

"By June, we expect to receive state grants -- about $107,000 to $110,000 -- for computers, fingerprint and photograph equipment," Tregoning said.

The county is in line to receive the grants, and beginning the operation yesterday puts the county in a better position to receive funding sooner, he said.

Deputies and correctional officers will have time to become proficient with the process and be better prepared to handle the increased numbers when Westminster police and state police come on board, said Lt. Col. George R. Hardinger, the jail's warden.

Freeing up time

The process enables arresting officers to drive suspects into a secure entrance, where they are escorted by jail personnel 35 to 40 feet to a holding room or booking room.

"The officer is free to begin doing his paperwork while our staff does a search and begins the booking process," Hardinger said. "Unless some potential evidence is located during a search, the arresting officer is done and free to leave as soon as a statement of probable cause is completed.

Awaiting an arrest

Taneytown Chief Melvin Diggs said his agency had not made an arrest yesterday and had not tried the new central booking process.

"There may be some trial and error getting it started, but it has to help get officers back to patrol work sooner," Diggs said.

"We still have to transport the arrested person and fill out a detailed report form at the sheriff's office, but deputies will take custody and transport [the suspect] to the court commissioner," he said.

That could save at least 45 minutes, Diggs said.

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