The two candidates for the House District 10A seat both voiced opposition to a Minnesota State Patrol plan to consolidate state patrol dispatching centers.
Rep. John Ward, DFL-Baxter, said in a statement Wednesday he’ll “fight until the end” a State Patrol plan to consolidate the state patrol dispatch centers.
The Minnesota State Patrol is working to consolidate the state’s dispatch centers from the current nine locations down to just two. Once this consolidation is completed, the northern two-thirds of the state will be dispatched from the metro area, Ward said in his statement.
The state patrol’s Brainerd operations will transfer to new facilities no later than May 1. Dispatchers at the state’s public safety answering points will be offered a position in one of the two consolidated centers, state patrol officials said.
Chris Kellett, Ward’s Republican-endorsed opponent for the House District 10A seat, said she is also opposed to the consolidation.
Ward raised the concern dispatchers in the metro may not understand the Brainerd area well enough to be effective.
“During the flooding in the northern part of the state, dispatchers received commendations for their excellent work,” he said in a statement. “Their work dispatching MnDOT workers saved roadways, in part because of their excellent knowledge of the local area.”
He also objected to seeing outstate Minnesota jobs going to the Twin Cities area.
“And while many say that government doesn’t create jobs, tell that to the six dispatchers and their families facing the closure of the Brainerd center, who don’t know what they’re going to do,” Ward said.
Kellett said that while consolidation might save money the state shouldn’t put dollars ahead of public safety or possible injuries.
“Brainerd troopers would be dispatched from somewhere else other than here,” the Brainerd woman said. “That could be a detriment to public safety because if they are dispatched from somewhere else it could lead to unintended mistakes because they do not have the knowledge of our area that our current dispatchers have.”
While Ward said it will be difficult to stop the closure of the Brainerd dispatch center, he urged people who agree with him to contact Gov. Mark Dayton, Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman, and Minnesota State Patrol Chief Cpl. Kevin Daly.
Contact numbers for those officials are: Governor Dayton: 800-657-3717 or http://mn.gov/governor/contact-us/form/.; Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman, 651-201-7160; and Cpl. Kevin Daly: 651-201-7100.