Range 911 calls now headed for Duluth

The St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department has announced that emergency calls from the northern half of the massive northern Minnesota county will now be handled in Duluth.

The “Midway” call center, as it is known, will be closed. One dispatcher I’ve talked to, understandably upset about an additional 2-3 hours of drive time, also fears the long term implications and technological limitations. Can a dispatch center in an urban center properly serve a region connected by forests, mine dumps and a labyrinth of dirt roads with Finnish names? Will future dispatchers have the knowledge of the region necessary to serve it?

St. Louis County is a big’n, running from the head of Lake Superior up to the Canadian border. It’s the largest county by land in the state, dominated politically by the large population center in Duluth. This action appears to have been taken unilaterally by the sheriff’s department. I’d expect an exciting county board meeting on the topic.

The issue raises a lot of questions about government services in what is becoming the “new normal.” At some point cost savings and consolidations run headlong into real world outcomes. Here we are.


  1. Potential cost savings aside, this sounds completely insane. St. Louis County, on top of being a strange patchwork in all the ways you mentioned, is larger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. Do their dispatechers work out of Boston?

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