Prince George's County police and the county's district court judges have agreed that armed robbers should not be processed next to the drive-in window of a bank.
Thus ends -- at least for the time being -- the Seat Pleasant magistrates controversy.
Several months ago, the judges had ordered their magistrates, known as District Court commissioners, to move out of the Seat Pleasant police station and into an office at a nearby Suburban Trust Bank building, which the judges reasoned would be a more secure facility.
But county police protested, saying there was no way they would bring violent criminals or disorderly drunks to be processed at the bank.
The police announced last week that they had decided to ignore the commissioners and take their suspects to other county police stations for arraignment.
District Court Judge James M. Rea realized that his magistrates might be left twiddling their thumbs all day. He met with county police last Friday.
The police, who must take prisoners before commissioners for a decision on whether the suspect should be released or sent to jail, agreed to take some offenders -- but only nonviolent ones -- to the bank for processing.
The police said they would continue their policy of taking suspects arrested for violent crimes to commissioners' offices at other locations, such as Hyattsville or Upper Marlboro.
Sources said the judges indicated they would try to get out of the five-year lease they had signed with the bank.
"The bank probably wouldn't mind getting out of the lease either," said one judge.
Bank officials said last week that they had rented out the office space next to their drive-in window because they assumed that the commissioners did primarily administrative paper work. They did not realize that police would be bringing handcuffed prisoners into the bank's crowded parking lot during banking hours, or that suspects might be freed right at the bank.
The plan to move the commissioners was put into motion last year when Robert F. Sweeney, cheif judge of the District Court, visited the Seat Pleasant station and found the conditions there "disgraceful." He ordered that new facilities be found for the commissioners.
The state leased approximately 500 feet of office space at the Suburban Trust branch at 6800 George Palmer Hwy., several blocks from the Seat Pleasant station.
"They talk about better security at the bank?" said one observer. "Ask them how often the bank has been held up, and how often the police station has been held up."