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Federal funds would upgrade sheriff's radios

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Federal funds would upgrade sheriff's radios
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Funding for Beltrami County law enforcement radio upgrades is included in a Senate appropriations bill.

The fiscal year 2010 omnibus appropriations bill includes $1.4 million for northwest Minnesota projects, including $240,000 for Beltrami County's mobile data and computer-aided dispatch system.

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The funding is part of an estimated $1.22 million project over seven years to bring the Beltrami County Sheriff's Department dispatch services from analog to digital, making it compatible with the new 800 MHz statewide system.

Also needed is to replace sheriff's deputy mobile radios with digital equipment, and provide each squad with a computer laptop which can connect to the Dispatch Center in Bemidji.

The funding was announced Thursday by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minn.

"When I was county attorney I would often meet with law enforcement officials across our state to discuss best practices and areas for improvement," Klobuchar said. "It became very clear very quickly that they needed tools to help them communicate better between jurisdictions, especially in our rural areas."

"Beltrami County is excited to be included as a recipient of appropriations to aid in our mobile data/computer-aided dispatch technology project," Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp said in Klobuchar's statement. "Funding to aid interoperability between the various city, county and tribal law enforcement and emergency response workers is invaluable to providing public safety to our citizens."

The bill also includes $100,000 for the Community Oriented Policing Services Law Enforcement and Meth Education Project for the White Earth Tribal Nation in Becker.

COPS has funded 118,000 officers in more than 12,000 communities nationwide since it was created in 1994, she said. Researchers have credited it as a significant factor in the national decline in violent crime that began in the 1990s.

Included in the legislation is $500,000 for improvements to Southeast Main Avenue between 20th and 21st Streets in Moorhead, including grade separations to increase safety.

"Infrastructure initiatives like the Main Avenue project in Moorhead are critical to creating jobs, fueling local businesses, and providing safe and reliable transportation for Minnesota families," Klobuchar said.

Also included in the bill at Klobuchar's request is $550,000 for the University of Minnesota-Crookston Center for Rural Entrepreneurial Studies. The center provides resources, education, and business development for rural entrepreneurs, helping to spur business and economic development.

The Senate is expected to pass the major omnibus spending bill this weekend.

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