New correctional training facility stems from 20-year partnership |

CUMBERLAND — Construction of the new Western Region Correctional Training Center at the Allegany College of Maryland campus is the latest evidence of a thriving partnership forged between the Maryland Department of Correctional Services and the community college at the turn of the century.

“What has been achieved here is incredible,” said Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Robert L. Green, who began his career in the Maryland correctional system in 1985 as a correctional officer.

“This is extraordinary — a professional, academic training environment with this purpose-built building for correctional training,” Green said Thursday during a visit to the Willowbrook Road campus. He also visited the North Branch Correctional Institution, the Western Correctional Institution and the Department of Parole and Probation.

Green’s visit took place during National Correctional Officers Week. Earlier in the week he visited state correctional facilities in every part of Maryland.

The designated special week of observance was started in 1985 by President Ronald Reagan, who said by proclamation that correctional officers are the “backbone of our correctional systems.”

Green voiced appreciation and recognition of the state’s correctional officers.

“These corrections professionals are the keepers of justice. They do very difficult work in a collective environment and they are extremely professional,” he said. “When you talk to a correctional officer, you are talking to a baseball coach, a football coach, a parent — we are part of every community,” he said.

Western Region Correctional Training Center

Located at the western edge of campus next to the Continuing Education building, the $2.5-million structure features classrooms for in-service training and firearms training of correctional officers in addition to a large mat room utilized for training in defensive tactics, CPR and first aid and other specialized training.

In addition, the building includes an incident command center available for use by the Western Correctional Institution and North Branch Correctional Institution in the event of an emergency.

Local and regional law enforcement will also utilize the facility for training purposes.

The single story, 9,700-square-foot structure was funded with $1.65 million in state funds, $855,000 provided by the college and with the assistance of Allegany County resources in design, engineering and other project management support.

Furniture, including desks, chairs and bookcases were provided through a federal agency in Washington that was liquidating office furniture, according to DPSCS public information officer Mark Vernarelli.

Need for new facility

ACM officials project a 130% increase of 2019 numbers of correctional training during post-pandemic times.

More than 1,000 correctional officers and staff participated in 40 hours of training in the prior space that year.

In the past two decades, DPSCS utilized three different locations on the ACM campus to provide training for its correctional officers, according to Vernarelli.

The new center expands daytime training and course availability for regional correctional and public safety officers. It also prevents need for out-of-town training and associated travel costs.

College officials project more than 2,500 community members will annually participate in trainings and courses conducted at the new facility.

DPSCS, Allegany College partnership

“We’re grateful for the many partnerships that made the WRCTC possible,” said Cynthia Bambara, ACM president.

“When ACM began to partner with correctional institutions and law enforcement to offer trainings, no one — not even the college — could have foreseen the demand for training or how quickly the program would outgrow its previous space,” she said.

Green touted the DPSCS partnership with ACM. “This is a wonderful history for us that we have enjoyed for many, many years. It is an ongoing investment in the fields of corrections, case management and multiple disciplines.”

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