The Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office may want to separate from the Valley Emergency Communications Center, but that doesn't mean the department doesn't still want to keep in touch.

The sheriff's office has obtained and invested more than $1 million of a federal Community-Oriented Policing Services grant to create a way for its computers to communicate with VECC through new technology. The Salt Lake County Council approved an interlocal agreement Tuesday that will share the technology between the sheriff's office and VECC.

"For a variety of reasons, the systems won't speak to each other," said Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder. "What we've done is ... built a piece of technology to take the two systems, plug it into this thing, and it will interpret the two systems and spit it out in a common language."

The county has agreed to pay the technology licensing fees for the first few years and pay VECC to install the technology on its systems. Salt Lake City also is expected to join the interlocal agreement and add the technology to its systems, but an agreement has not yet been signed.

Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City run their dispatch computers with the same system, but VECC is on a different system. Once the agreement is complete, the three entities will likely be up and running on the new technology by early 2009, Winder said.

County Councilman Randy Horiuchi said Tuesday's decision has no impact on whether the sheriff's office will remove its 911 calls from VECC.

"This gives us the widest range of alternatives to look at, to have the widest possible template of decisions," Horiuchi said. "This isn't the death knell (to the county's relationship with VECC)."

County leaders agreed in November to work toward removing the county's 911 calls from VECC's dispatch center, but since then, no real progress has been made toward doing so.

"It's turned political," Winder said. "We were marching along, but now we're not."

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