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ATCC, sheriff’s office agree to dispatch partnership

Alexandria Technical and Community College (ATCC) and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) are partnering on a unique emergency communications opportunity.

A dispatch center, which is identical to those in most Minnesota counties, including Douglas, is being set up for the school’s law enforcement program.

The dispatch center will be fully functional and used to train law enforcement students, but also available to train dispatchers, law enforcement, first responders, firefighters and others from across the state who work with emergency communications.

Here’s where the partnership comes in – the sheriff’s office will kick in $9,000 to $12,000 to program, optimize and install the radio system at the school and, in turn, the ATCC dispatch center will serve as a backup for the local sheriff’s office dispatch.

“We have an opportunity, with the equipment that’s available [at ATCC], to have a redundancy for our dispatch center so that if something were to happen, and we were actually forced to vacate our current dispatch center, we would be able to move, temporarily to the [ATCC] law enforcement building and utilize their equipment and basically operate without any real interruption to services other than making the switch over,” said Douglas County Sheriff Troy Wolbersen.

“It’s an opportunity also for training for our current dispatchers as well as any new hires.

“Not every community has this available to them and we’re very fortunate to have that opportunity here,” Wolbersen said.

Scott Berger, ATCC law enforcement program coordinator and dean of admissions, joined Wolbersen Tuesday to inform county commissioners about the partnership and to request funding.

Berger told commissioners that ATCC will be the only educational institution in the state with a fully functioning dispatch center and he sees great opportunity for the school to grow its training course offerings in emergency communication.

The county board indicated consensus for the sheriff to use “911 funds” to pay up to $12,000.

In addition, by partnering with ATCC on the dispatch center, DCSO will have access to free training programs related to emergency communications.

Berger said he expects the ATCC dispatch center to be operational in August.


The ATCC dispatch center will operate under the Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response (ARMER) system.

It will be equipped with four dispatch consoles, which were funded through a grant; desk and console furniture, which were donated; a computer-aided dispatch system, record-management system and other equipment, which were funded through the ATCC program or donated.

The dispatch consoles at ATCC will generate an additional $500 per month maintenance fee, which will be covered by the law enforcement program, according to Berger.

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

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