ST. PAUL (AP) -- Terrorism has yet to come within 1,000 miles of Minnesota, yet emergency workers from the bomb squad to beat police have been taxed to the limit responding to false alarms since Sept. 11, experts told legislators Thursday.
Officials told members of the Senate Crime Prevention Committee they're going to need help to pay for overtime costs and to prepare for the real thing.
"If we were to add up the wish list, it would be in the tens of millions, probably in the hundreds of millions of dollars when it's all put together," said Larry Podany, Anoka County Sheriff and president of the Minnesota Sheriff's Association.
Much of that money would go to upgrade police radios statewide so they can communicate with each other, he said.
Other funds could be used to re-establish Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Teams in Duluth, Rochester and Moorhead, firefighters said.
In the most recent legislative session, the nine-person teams, staffed by local firefighters, were cut to three-person Chemical Assessment Teams. The smaller teams can work to secure sites of emergencies, but aren't authorized to do cleanup of hazardous materials.
Now, there is only one emergency team, based in St. Paul.
Committee chairwoman Sen. Jane Ranum, DFL-Minneapolis, said she's concerned that money for training and equipment gets to rural areas as well as the Twin Cities.
"I am convinced that the governor will have a package that addresses the gaps you're talking about," Public Safety Commissioner Charlie Weaver told lawmakers.
He said the department intends to look first for federal dollars, but said Gov. Jesse Ventura will make shifts in the state's budget if needed.
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