Forestville state police barracks could close
Budget cuts may force consolidation; no layoffs expected
Due to an ailing state budget, state officials said they are considering consolidating Prince George's County's two Maryland State Police barracks, closing the Forestville barracks and moving all troopers to the College Park station.
No official decision has been made, but consolidation is a possibility, said Mike Raia, a spokesman for Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D), on Sept. 17.
"We're playing with the budget situation … and all options are on the table," Raia said, adding that no troopers will be laid off because of the closure.
A similar move, which saved the state $300,000, was made in July 2008, when Anne Arundel County consolidated its Annapolis barracks, said Greg Shipley, a spokesman for the Maryland State Police.
"The Maryland State Police along with other state agencies are looking for ways to cut costs and streamline operations," Shipley said.
County Councilman Samuel Dean (D-Dist.6) of Mitchellville, whose constituency includes Forestville, declined to comment Tuesday.
The Maryland State Police budget has been cut three times since the beginning of the fiscal year, totaling more than $7 million in reductions, said Elena Russo, a department spokeswoman, on Monday.
An estimate of the budget saving for consolidating the county barracks was not immediately available, she said.
The Annapolis station was closed July 1, 2008, and all troopers were moved to the Glen Burnie barracks, Shipley said, noting that the move has not hampered response times in the county.
However, Upper Marlboro resident Venus Bethea said she is worried the closure of the Forestville barracks would result in more vehicle accidents along already dangerous highways in the area, which state police are primarily responsible for.
Bethea, a former dispatcher who worked at the Forestville barracks from 2002 to 2005, said the county is too large to have troopers reporting to and from College Park.
"In reality, most of the troopers have to go to the barracks at one point or another and leave patrol," she said.
Upper Marlboro resident Dedra Spears Johnson said she is also worried response times may suffer if troopers are stationed at the College Park barracks.
Concerned with the congestion on Largo Road/Route 202 and the Capital Beltway, Johnson said accidents and dangerous driving are frequent along her commute.
"There have been a lot of accidents lately, and people run red lights," she said.
Lt. Bonnie Morris, commander of the Forestville barracks, said she was aware of the possible closure, but referred all comments to Shipley.
Shipley said that while troopers would report to College Park, they would still be stationed throughout the county so response times would not be affected.
The consolidation of Maryland State Police barracks in the county would not place any additional stress on the Prince George's County Police Department, police spokesman Maj. Andy Ellis said Friday.
"It really would not affect us either way," Ellis said. "I'm sure they would continue to provide the same service they do now."
A protest organized by Bethea to oppose the barracks' closure was originally scheduled for Sept. 17 in Annapolis but was postponed because President Barack Obama held a health care reform rally in College Park at the same time the protest was planned.
Although a new date has not been confirmed, Bethea said the protest will most likely be held next month.
She is awaiting a response from state Sen. Anthony Muse (D-Dist.26) of Fort Washington, whom Bethea said expressed interest in helping to co-organize the rally. Muse did not return calls by press time.