Ramsey County’s decision to upgrade technology for an interoperable 800 MHz radio emergency communications system revived a discussion, dating from the 1940s, concerning consolidation of public safety dispatch services. In 2002, the County Board charged a task force with finding solutions to the rising costs of necessary upgrades for advanced telephone and computer technology, trained personnel, and professional management. The task force was to consider options that might include consolidating the four existing public safety dispatch centers in the Ramsey County.
To build the radio network, the County purchased and installed approximately 3,000 interoperable radios in public safety and public service vehicles, and trained the radio operators. Radios with access to interoperable channels can communicate with other radios on the 800 MHz emergency communications interoperable network throughout the State. The Ramsey County radio system is a subsystem of the metropolitan region-wide radio system with ties to the statewide interoperable radio network. Dispatch, police, fire, ambulance, school security, public works, and public transit personnel within the metropolitan region and beyond have the capacity to communicate via radio when responding to an emergency.
In late 2005, three of four dispatch centers that cover emergency dispatch services for all but one municipality in Ramsey County, reached merger agreements to use the Ramsey County Emergency Communications Center (RCECC) as their emergency communications and dispatch center. The City of White Bear Lake continues to operate its own dispatch center. Eighteen public agencies, including fire, law enforcement, and emergency medical services are dispatched by the RCECC. The RCECC employs the staff from the dispatch centers previously managed by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department, the Saint Paul Police Department, and the Maplewood Police Department.
In the spring of 2007, a new facility designed with new technology and improved processes was finished. Employees from the former Maplewood and Ramsey County dispatch centers moved into the new RCECC. By November, 2007, employees from St. Paul’s dispatch center moved into the RCECC. Hiring and training has increased the number and flexibility of staff. The Department currently employs over 130 staff to sustain 24-hour emergency service.