- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 25, 2004

WOODLAWN, Md. — The FBI’s spacious new Maryland and Delaware field office is enabling agents to bring their operations under one roof, instead of working from several smaller offices scattered around the area.

The building, which replaces a nearby office the FBI had used since 1972, was designed to meet security standards for government buildings that were set after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

And the additional space — about three times what the FBI had in its old building — will increase efficiency for the division’s 450 employees, said Special Agent in Charge Kevin Perkins.

“It’s a good thing for our Joint Terrorism Task Force,” Mr. Perkins said.

The Baltimore office was one of the first in the FBI to have such a task force up and running. It combines federal, state and local law enforcement sources to share resources to fight terrorism.

“We have grown because of the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the number of detectives and other agencies that are now sharing office space with us,” said Barry Maddox, a spokesman for the FBI’s Baltimore field office.

Facilities previously offsite were consolidated at the new building. Large meeting rooms make it easier for groups to get together in a setting conducive to exchanging information; agents used to rent space for meetings.

“Before, we just couldn’t do it,” Mr. Perkins said, referring to the space constraints in the old office.

Now the field office can accommodate a large number of different agencies and could serve as a command post in a regional crime crisis, Mr. Maddox said.

The new field office is on about 10 acres near a shopping mall in a Baltimore suburb, convenient to the Baltimore Beltway and Interstate 70.

Plans for the building had been in the works for about 10 years, and agents began settling into their new spaces last month. A dedication ceremony is scheduled for next month.

“It’s quite a change from what we had,” Mr. Perkins said, noting the benefits of having more room as well as the “aesthetically pleasing environment” inside the building.

The $11.2 million structure, with red brick and a gray facade, has four floors with about 164,000 square feet of space. That’s compared with about 50,000 square feet in the old office nearby, which had a roof that sometimes leaked and the atmosphere of a warehouse.

Agents now also have a secure space to store and process evidence.

Mr. Perkins said security is improved. In the old building, suspects were brought through the offices in handcuffs, something Mr. Perkins said he didn’t want to see anymore because of the potential for someone to break loose. Now, agents have a secure area to process prisoners.

“It has done wonders for the morale of our employees,” Mr. Perkins said.

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