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Anne Arundel County executive visits new central booking facility years in the making

County Executive Steuart Pittman was happy to walk into Jennifer Road Detention Center on Friday morning.

He was even happier to be able to walk out.

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“You know, I have something like a 20% chance of landing in here,” Pittman laughed, a gibe at two former Anne Arundel County executives who served time.

Pittman stopped into the Jennifer Road Detention Center to tour the jail’s new central booking facility. The building is meant to be a one-stop-shop for processing arrestees.

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Before it opened in June, arresting officers from one of the 16 county-based law enforcement agencies would transport the individual to their home station to see booking officers and generate charges. That person is then taken to District Court to see the commissioners before either being released or transported for a third time to Jennifer Road. It took about two years to construct the new center, with former County Executive Steve Schuh’s administration breaking ground in 2018.

The new building cuts the intake time to release or commitment down from 6-7 hours to 2-3 hours, Correctional Facility Administrator Michael Borgese said.

The 17,000 square foot building cost $11.1 million, half of which was covered by the state. It was proposed by then-County Executive Steve Schuh in his fiscal 2016 plan.

“It does benefit the residents who unfortunately get arrested. It’s less stressful because it’s less time detained at a facility,” Borgese said.

The new building hosts 22 adult cells and two juvenile cells, making it the only facility in the state with a juvenile side attached. A third of arrests receive commitments to the county’s main jail, Borgese said.

The center also comes with updated technology to up its efficiency, including a giant body scanner used to detect contraband, an inkless fingerprint intake area and QR codes outside each holding cell for officers to log wellness checks electronically.

Officers used to have to file charges by typing up a Microsoft Word document and stapling it to one of the old charging forms made for typewriters. Now, a new electronic system created by a Maryland Capitol police officer is being used in an isolated room for officers to file charges.

“This is a big step forward for our whole system of law enforcement,” Pittman said. “Officers can spend more time in the communities they serve and less time booking.”

He playfully teetered across the red line painted in the middle of a room intended for sobriety checks.

He doesn’t intend to go through the process himself, but Pittman said he was pleased with how safe and efficient the new facility is.

“Whether we like it or not, this is a part of what local government does for its residents,” Pittman said. “It’s safe. It’s clean. No frills. Really an efficient operation.”

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