FROSTBURG — Frostburg State University officials, city and county leaders, members of the local legislative delegation and area law enforcement came together Tuesday for a beam signing — a celebration marking the construction of a new Public Safety Building on the university campus.
“It’s obviously really exciting for us,” said Cynthia Smith, the university’s police chief. “We’re in a facility that we get the job done in, but it’s not really conducive to public safety and law enforcement.”
The current police headquarters located on University Drive is more than 60 years old and was originally constructed as an elementary school in 1953. The building is incapable of meeting present-day requirements for law enforcement accreditation, according to officials.
“It needed to be replaced and it was a priority,” said state Sen. George Edwards. “I think it’s the only one in the state that is not accredited at this point, but it will be after this is done.”
Edwards said he worked to secure the $5.5 million needed for the building’s design and construction from the state’s capital budget.
Construction on the 6,127-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility began in early April and is expected to be completed next spring. It sits at the corner of University Drive and College Avenue, a main entrance to the campus.
It’s strategically placed to highlight the importance of a safe campus community, officials said.
“We are going to keep pushing the forward movement of Frostburg State and make it one of the best colleges in the state of Maryland and in the whole country,” Edwards said, “so people want to move here and get educated, and people who live here can stay here and get educated and hopefully stay here after they get educated.”
Upon completion, the facility will meet the standards of the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, an accreditation Maryland encourages all police departments to meet.
Access and security are among concerns in the current facility. Due to the structure’s drywall, the property and evidence rooms are not considered secure by accreditation standards.
“In your property room and your evidence room you need solid walls all the way to the ceiling,” said FSU Lt. T. Scott Donahue. “Nobody can get in, controlled access, things like that.”
Other features of the new facility include a location to secure firearms, a properly secured area for records storage, separate locker room facilities for male and female employees, interview/interrogation rooms, detention areas separated by gender and age as well as separate holding cells for juveniles.
Harbel, Inc. of Cumberland will complete the project. It is estimated that 80 percent of construction dollars will be spent in Maryland with a large portion of that in Allegany County, officials said.
“This building is not only a huge leap forward in achieving accreditation, but also provides the FSU Police Department with the facility and the equipment necessary to supply the level of security necessary to safeguard our students and campus,” said university President Ronald Nowaczyk. “It also allows us to continue to improve our partnership with the city of Frostburg to safeguard the surrounding community.”