Aberdeen HEAT Center Sidelined As Harford County Executive Eyes New Multi-Agency Public Safety Complex


Sheriff Jeff Gahler speaks at the initial unveiling of plans for the new police training facility and precinct headquarters in Aberdeen. (Credit: Harford County Government/ Facebook)

HARFORD COUNTY - On Thursday, Harford County Executive Bob Cassilly announced plans to explore the construction of a comprehensive new public safety complex, sidelining the previously considered HEAT Center in Aberdeen for this initiative.

The proposed facility would feature a new precinct for the Sheriff's Office, an EMS station, an indoor firing range, a garage, and tactical training spaces, among other amenities, according to the County Executive's Office.

This announcement came after an independent study conducted by Manns Woodward Studios (MWS), an architectural firm specializing in public safety infrastructure. MWS concluded that Aberdeen's nearly 30-year-old HEAT Center is inadequate for contemporary public safety needs and that previous estimates to renovate the center had been "grossly underestimated."

WMAR2 reports that the Sheriff's Office was informed about the decision regarding the HEAT Center when the press release went public on Thursday.

"We learned of the County Executive's proposal through the same news release you received. We have not had a chance to review the information to provide an informed response. We were not part of any meetings or studies mentioned in the release," a spokesperson for the Sheriff's Office told the news outlet.

In 2021, former county executive Barry Glassman and Sheriff Gahler unveiled plans for a new 20,000-square-foot training center at the HEAT Center, originally set to begin construction in 2023. This plan also included a new central precinct with its headquarters at the facility.

According to the press release, the HEAT Center will now be repurposed to support workforce development. Cassilly stated he intends to adopt a multi-year, phased-in approach to fund the new public safety complex, which will serve multiple agencies.

"I intend to explore having these agencies train together in a state-of-the-art complex to facilitate interoperability and reduce costs," Cassilly said.

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