Booking center delayed but praised

EBENSBURG – Police departments in the southern half of Cambria County will have to wait until another week to utilize the county’s recently opened central booking center.

Commissioners and prison officials had previously said the lower half of the county would utilize the booking center starting July 8, but the official date was pushed back as the staff prepares for an additional volume of suspects, Cambria County Prison Warden John Prebish said.

Police officers bring suspects to the booking center, located at the county prison on Manor Drive, for quick processing.

Many of the “bugs” with the center are related to the new computer software and processing walk-in individuals at the center for fingerprinting, Prebish said.

Despite the delay, area police departments have adjusted well to the new system, he said.

“Everything’s been positive,” Prebish said.

The prison has four corrections officers who work in the center, which is staffed by at least one employee 24 hours per day, seven days per week, Prebish said.

Officers bring suspects to the booking center where they are then fingerprinted and arraigned via video conferencing with the on-call magisterial district judge.

“I think it’s 100 percent successful,” Ebensburg Borough Police Chief Terry Wyland said. “It’s been great for us.”

The district magistrates have set times when they arraign suspects instead of being on call throughout the night, Wyland said. The center also has the equipment necessary to digitally fingerprint and photograph each suspect, Wyland said.

“I just think it’s a real win-win for everybody,” Wyland said.

During their meeting June 13, all three Cambria County commissioners praised the program, calling the initiative an effect, cost-savings measure.

In the past, officers had to wait at the district magistrate’s office while suspects were arraigned, or schedule video arraignments with the on-call district magistrate for after-hours arrests, Cresson Borough Police Chief Jeffrey Kopsic said.

“It’s very time consuming,” Kopsic said.

The booking center is an easier, more beneficial alternative, Kopsic said.

Richland Township Police Chief Mike Burgan said he was looking forward to his department utilizing the booking center when the center opens to the southern half of the county on July 22.