Posts Tagged ‘public safety’

Board Supports New 911 Center (and plays a little politics)

Written by Jeff Johnson on November 19th, 2010. Posted in General

On Tuesday, the board approved a resolution I offered to begin planning work on a new 911 communications facility for the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office at the adult corrections facility site in Plymouth.  The resolution passed on a vote of 4 – 2.

The county has been discussing the need for a new 911 facility for many years.  Currently, the Sheriff’s Office dispatches 911 calls in an outdated 60-year-old facility in a Golden Valley residential neighborhood.  Earlier this year, the county hired a national expert on emergency communication facilities from D.C. to take a look at our current facility.  His report is not public, but the message in it was simple and stark: Hennepin County needs to replace the Golden Valley facility and we need to do it soon.

The two commissioners voting against the proposal had various reasons for their opposition, including the $30 million plus price tag of the project and disagreement about its location in Plymouth.  I have no reservations, however, about the dire need for this new facility.  Public safety is the first responsibility of government and we are clearly putting public safety in jeopardy if we don’t finally act on a new 911 facility.  Failure of our 911 system wouldn’t be an inconvenience, it would be a disaster.

I’m constantly complaining about our inability to prioritize spending on the county board, but this week I’m happy to say the board chose to make public safety a priority.

Nothing, however, happens up here without a little drama:

For fix of politics, dial up 911 plan

Kevin Duchschere, Star Tribune

The Hennepin County Board voted Tuesday to proceed with plans to develop a new 911 dispatch center at the county’s workhouse in Plymouth. That was the expected part.

County Board’s Newfound Scrutiny of Federal $$$ Requests

Written by Jeff Johnson on March 12th, 2010. Posted in General

Last week, the county board voted 4-3 to lay over (and possibly kill) a request by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office for federal funding of a “Kingfish” cell phone tracking device.  It was the second time the board has postponed a vote on this request, likely making it difficult for the Sheriff’s Office to meet the deadlines for our local congressional representatives.

The Kingfish, as I understand it, is not capable of listening to cell phone conversations, but can track the location of a cell phone that is on but not being used.  This device has been used by other law enforcement agencies around the country to track missing or abducted children who are carrying a cell phone or who are with someone who is carrying a cell phone.  I am told that a court order is required before the Kingfish can be used to track a cell phone in any particular case.

Reform on the Juvenile Crime Front

Written by Jeff Johnson on July 28th, 2009. Posted in General

 

Major Changes Underway in Dealing with Juvenile Offenders

I often focus on the negative in this blog, pointing out those things that I believe are ill-conceived or wasteful in Hennepin County. That doesn’t mean that Hennepin County isn’t providing many excellent and crucial services to the taxpayers of the county on a daily basis. Those many positive things, however, are frequently touted by the media and by the county’s active public relations staff.

One of the main purposes of this blog is to inform taxpayers of those matters that they might not otherwise know about – those things that the media has missed and the county doesn’t choose to trumpet (such as the monthly Golden Fire Hydrant). Not surprisingly, those things are usually not all that positive.

I do intend, however, to give credit where it is due on occasion, especially when county leadership and staff are willing to take difficult steps to reform or streamline the way services are provided in Hennepin County.