When the Minnesota State Patrol troopers in the Brainerd District are dispatched to the scene of a crash, they’re getting their information from dispatchers housed in the state patrol office in Baxter.
Coming March 18, that will change. The dispatch center in Baxter is closing, as the state patrol is consolidating all of its dispatch centers in the state. By this spring, there will only be two operating dispatch centers for the state patrol, in Roseville and Rochester. Emergency calls coming from the Brainerd District will go through the dispatch center in Roseville, which will take all the calls north of the Twin Cities metro area. Calls taken from the southern part of the state will go through the Rochester dispatch center.
Capt. Sean Meagher of the Minnesota State Patrol District 2800 that serves the Brainerd area, said the state patrol began discussing consolidating its dispatch centers throughout the state in 2009 and began the consolidation in December of 2012. Meagher said the Brainerd District is the second to the last dispatch center to close. The last day the Brainerd Dispatch center will take calls in March 17. Then on April 14, the dispatch center in Virginia will close.
Meagher said the state patrol is consolidating its dispatch center to just two centers to be more efficient, reduce redundancies and to save money. Meagher said the state patrol initially will save $1 million through the consolidation, savings achieved by maintaining equipment at two centers instead of 10.
Meagher said there will be no reductions in personnel, as the dispatchers are given the option to transfer to one of the open dispatch centers. At the Brainerd District, there are five dispatchers and one supervisor. Meagher said all the dispatchers and the supervisors at all the dispatch centers, knew of the consolidation well ahead of time and were given notice of their options.
“I don’t know what they have decided,” said Meagher on the dispatchers and the supervisor. “One of our dispatchers took a dispatching job with Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office.
Since September of 2012, the Brainerd Dispatch Center has operated 16 hours per day and the Roseville center handled the other eight hours per day. There is always one dispatcher and a supervisor on per shift at the Brainerd center.
“In the Brainerd center, it is common for a dispatcher to work alone (no other dispatcher),” said Meagher. “ In the consolidated center, multiple dispatchers work in close proximity to one another.”
Meagher said the public will see no changes with the consolidation. He said troopers from the Brainerd District will still respond just as fast to the emergencies. The troopers will just get the information from a dispatcher in Roseville.
Meagher said the state patrol currently leases space in the Minnesota Department of Transportation building and when its lease is up it will have the option to lease less space that will in return save money.
“It’s really difficult to make business decision that will have a negative impact on families,” said Meagher. “Consolidation has occurred in other states and it is driven by technology ... We love our dispatchers. We have a great group of people ... They will be dearly missed.”