You asked: With police-sheriff split, how will dispatching work?What’s going to happen to the dispatch center once the Alexandria Police Department and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office are in separate locations?
By: Celeste Beam, Alexandria Echo Press
Editor’s note: The following is part of an Echo Press feature, “You Asked.” Readers are invited to send the newspaper a simple question and we’ll try to get to the bottom of it. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You asked: What’s going to happen to the dispatch center once the Alexandria Police Department and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office are in separate locations?
The answer: It’s pretty simple, according to Tom Egan, Douglas County communication supervisor, “Nothing is going to change.”
Egan said that currently, Douglas County operates the dispatching center, which receives all 911 calls, as well as non-emergency calls.
Essentially, he said, dispatching will remain the same.
“We will continue dispatching for both the county and the city,” said Egan.
He explained that back in 1995, when the city police department and the county sheriff’s office consolidated into one location, the dispatching was also consolidated.
According to Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels, at the time of consolidation, the city agreed to help pay for the dispatching services.
Wyffels added that currently the city continues to pay the county for those services, but that the cost is under review at this time.
He concurred with Egan that dispatching should remain the same – unless a regional dispatch center is set up in the future.
Both Egan and Wyffels said there is talk at the state level about dispatch centers around the state consolidating into several regional dispatch centers.
Regional dispatch centers might be in the future, according to Egan, but said for right now, it is all talk.
“Regional dispatch centers work in metro areas,” said Egan, “but not in rural, outstate Minnesota.”
Wyffels said he’s not sure whether regional dispatch centers are a good idea or a bad idea, but said there has been some significant changes in dispatch centers for the Minnesota State Patrol.
He said there are a number of centers that will be closing. Egan said that the state patrol will soon only have three dispatch centers, instead of the 10 or so it currently has.
Despite the fact that the city is moving ahead with its plan on a new facility for its police department, both Wyffels and Egan said as far as they know, dispatching will remain the same.