Overheard last night was the statement that everyone should take this class. I wholeheartedly agree. The class was created for everyone who either lives and/or works in Owatonna, to better understand the policies and procedures of the local PD and what they need to know on a daily basis.

Last night was the 3rd night of the class and we learned about the 911 Center and some of the dispatching protocols and procedures. The 911 Center of Rice and Steele County is the only consolidated agency in the State of Minnesota and their 24 dispatchers are responsible for all of Steele and Rice Counties. They work closely with all law enforcement and the emergency services, like the fire departments and ambulance crews.

Most of their calls, both emergency, and on the non-emergency lines, come in around 4 pm. This surprised me in a way, but, it makes sense. There are more people on the roads, it is usually nicer that time of day, people are getting off work, etc. They do have translator services available, usually within seconds, if needed, for those who call and do not speak English as their first language.

We got to look at one of their stations, I did not get a picture, but, the technology they deal with is amazing. Several different screens surround each of the dispatchers, one of the screens looks like a TV, it's that big. Text to 911 is available in MN, but until the phone system is upgraded here, those texts go to Olmsted County. No worries, one dispatcher will continue to text the person reaching out, while getting our 911 Center on the phone. There is no lost communication. I didn't think of it, but, it was pointed out that this is a great service for the deaf community or anyone who is in a situation where they cannot call.

We also learned about the SCDIU Tactical Team, also known as a SWAT team. These are regular officers who have elevated training, no they don't get extra pay for this. They work with other departments to create the full team which includes members from agencies within Faribault, Freeborn, Steele, and Waseca counties. It can take up to an hour to assemble the full team if the full team needs to be together. Their monthly training includes 10 extra hours with the full team, in addition to their required training to be a licensed peace officer in MN.

It was interesting to find out that all members of the Tactical Team are cross-trained for every role within the team, with the exception of negotiators, snipers, and medics. They are considered specialists and they have increased training in their specialties. The team's main priorities of life are:

  1. Hostage
  2. Innocent civilians/bystanders/neighbors etc
  3. The local police department (before the tactical team)
  4. Hostage taker or suspect

We got to see some of the equipment they use/carry, and believe me, those vests are HEAVY. No need to lift weights if you're running around in full gear, you're getting a workout just picking it up. They let us look at their night vision gear, way cool, and Officer Hunt set off a "flash-bang" in the parking lot. I tried to get a video, but, dang that was loud and I almost dropped my phone, so no video. I can't wait until next week, just to pick up more knowledge.

Lorri Harrison, Cory Krenke, and Officer Joel Hunt Melissa Hall/Townsquare Media
The light tactical vest Melissa Hall/Townsquare Media
Showing the heavy tactical vest Melissa Hall/Townsquare Media