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Published April 12, 2012, 05:48 PM

Polk County Officials Face Dispatch Decisions in Coming Months

EAST GRAND FORKS, MN (WDAZ-TV) - Essential upgrades to the Polk County dispatch center will be required in the next few years. East Grand Forks and Crookston will have to decide whether to make upgrades to their equipment or completely combine dispatch services with the county.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

EAST GRAND FORKS, MN (WDAZ-TV) - Essential upgrades to the Polk County dispatch center will be required in the next few years.

East Grand Forks and Crookston will have to decide whether to make upgrades to their equipment or completely combine dispatch services with the county.

Polk County Sheriff Barb Erdman says the dispatch center will make complete software and hardware upgrades before 2015 and Crookston and East Grand Forks should be aware of them to decide what is best for their emergency service.

All 911 calls in Polk County come to the dispatch center in Crookston. The county dispatch center will soon upgrade the technology and make changes for Minnesota's next generation of 911 services.

"Down the road, people may be able to text 911 calls and also send video of 911 calls," Erdman said.

Erdman says the county has given Crookston and East Grand Forks an idea of how the changes may affect them and what their options might be.

Right now the Polk County Sheriff's dispatch center tranfers 911 calls from East Grand Forks to the local dispatch center then police or ambulance are notified.

"Part of this study looked at East Grand Forks also that if everything stays the same will they be able to receive that information or will they have to make upgrades to their system as well," Erdman said.

Another possible option that's been discussed would have East Grand Forks use the closer Grand Forks dispatch center, which would be similar to the system in use in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Polk County Emergency Manager Nancy Shafer says she understands the logistics of such a move, but it's not that simple.

"Some of the stumbling blocks would be the different laws in each state. A majority of the responders that are going to be able to help in East Grand are from Polk County," Shafer said.

Crookston Police Chief Tim Motherway says he is in favor of the county taking over all dispatch work for the city but says there is also the issue of what equipment is needed and what the final costs will be.

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