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Sheriff to get computer to help book suspects

THE BALTIMORE SUN

With nearly $145,000 in grants and local money, Carroll will buy a computer, fingerprinting equipment and a digital camera to streamline the processing of suspects at the county's central booking unit.

The new equipment will enable Carroll County to participate in the state's automated Arrest Booking System, which allows authorities to quickly identify suspects as computers search five national and state databases, said Col. Robert Keefer, the sheriff's chief deputy.

Sheriff's deputies now fingerprint suspects manually, using the outmoded, messy inking process.

Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning learned yesterday that federal officials had approved his office's application for $100,000 from Maryland's Drug Law Enforcement Formula Grant Program. The grant was contingent on $43,130 in matching local funds, which were approved. The county commissioners have long supported central booking, a one-stop location where arrested suspects can be identified, charged and, if need be, incarcerated.

"How soon automation is up and running depends on several factors," said Lt. Steve Miller, who heads the central booking unit.

"Once it is decided what models should be purchased, it will take time to install everything and train our staff," Miller said.

Rapid identification is important for safety, especially if a suspect arrested during a traffic stop in Carroll County is wanted somewhere else on more serious charges, jail officials have said. The system also minimizes the time patrol officers have to spend with an arrested suspect before they can return to duty.

Before the unit opened, two hours was the norm. Now most arresting officers are in and out of central booking in 30 minutes or less, said Miller.

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