SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — The City of Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County commissioners met Tuesday to finalize a joint-powers agreement that will place Metro Communications under the management umbrella of the City. But this administrative move isn’t the only big change awaiting the longtime 911 center. Emergency dispatchers are getting ready to move into their new headquarters at the Public Safety Campus in northeast Sioux Falls.
Deputy Director Aimee Chase has worked for Metro Communications for 23 years.
“It’s been great. I mean, this is where I grew up,” Chase said.
The dispatch center has been located inside the old Public Safety Building in downtown Sioux Falls for more than 40 years. A hardened room that’s more medieval, than modern.
“It’s like a dungeon. It really is. It’s dark. It’s dreary. And while it’s treated us well, we’re very much looking forward to shiny and new,” Chase said.
Shiny and new in the form of the $55-million, state-of-the-art Public Safety Campus.
“It is a transition from the Flintstones to the Jetsons. Really, we are moving from the cutting edge of technology that exists in our space, especially in our profession,” Metro Communications Interim Director Mike Gramlick said.
The switch to the new Public Safety Campus will be gradual and painstaking to ensure that there is no interruption of 911 service.
“We don’t just turn one switch off and another on. So, what you’ll see is a team that stays here in our current facility able to do the work of Metro Communications and then at the same time, we’ll light up a new team at the new facility. There will be an overlap period and once we’re comfortable with the processes and making sure everything’s working right, we do in fact, ceremoniously turn the lights on,” Gramlick said.
The transition should last through much of November. But even once the move is final, most of the equipment will stay behind to serve as an emergency backup. When it comes to keeping the public safe, 911 dispatchers always have a Plan B.
“It will always be our second home,” Chase said.
The dispatch center at the Public Safety Campus will more than double the size of the downtown center.
The campus is hosting a free open house on Saturday.
Coming up on Thursday’s Eye on KELOLAND, find out how its opening will help with a space crunch at the Sioux Falls Law Enforcement Center.