HOLLIDAYSBURG - Although a state agency has rejected Blair County's request for a grant to construct a central booking facility in the county jail, Commissioners Chairman Terry Tomassetti said other funds may be available.
Tomassetti, chairman of the Blair County Prison Board, said the county learned a week ago that the Blair County Criminal Justice Advisory Board's application to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency was rejected.
He said he is exploring
at least one other source for the money, but he refused to elaborate on Friday. He said if his plan proves to be viable, central booking could be implemented quickly.
The grant application estimated the cost of remodeling the prison to accommodate central booking at $262,000.
Local court and law enforcement officials are in favor of creating a booking facility where criminal suspects could be taken when arrested.
Suspects would be arraigned through videoconferencing with local magisterial district judges, and central booking officers would take their photographs and fingerprints. The suspects would then be committed to the jail or released on bail.
The advisory board, which includes the commissioners, court and law enforcement officials, approved the central booking plan as a way to streamline the justice system and put police officers back on the streets more quickly.
In a December interview, Blair County Prison Warden Michael M. Johnston said he favored using the jail for central booking.
"It's the future. It's the thing everybody is going with," he said at the time.
Johnston was not available for comment Friday.
The application stated that the new booking center would be equipped with the latest technology. Information on all suspects would be entered into various law enforcement networks including the Commonwealth Photo Imagining Network, the Automated Fingerprint System, Pennsylvania's Justice Network and the National Crime Information Center.
The networks all provide background information on individuals in the criminal justice system, including outstanding warrants from other jurisdictions.