The Washington County Sheriff’s Office will be part of enhancing regional preparedness and collaboration in the metropolitan area, after the Washington County Board of Commissioners on Feb. 7 approved an Urban Area Security Initiative grant agreement between the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the county. Jurisdictions receiving funds from the Twin Cities UASI Grant Program include the counties of Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, and Washington, and the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The 2011 Department of Homeland Security UASI grant will provide $244,677 to Washington County, expiring Dec. 31, 2013. Funds will be used to increase capabilities in interoperable communications, including mobile data computers for law enforcement and fire/rescue, and 800MHz radios for the county and designated cities; strengthen planning, which will include prioritizing needs and updating preparedness strategies; and improve the emergency operations center/common operating picture, which will provide for sustaining and expanding the web-based Knowledge Center to unify web network communications for emergency managers, elected officials, and public safety partners during emergency and non-emergency events. It is expected that $104,000 will be spent in 2012 and $140,677 will be spent in 2013.