Polk to celebrate National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, April 7, 2016

Each year, the second full week of April is dedicated to the men and women who serve as public safety telecommunicators.

It was first conceived by Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County (Calif.) Sheriff’s Office in 1981 and was observed only at that agency for three years. Members of the Virginia and North Carolina chapters of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) became involved in the mid-1980s.

By the early 1990s, the national APCO organization convinced Congress of the need for a formal proclamation. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced what became H.J. Res. 284 to create “National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week.” According to Congressional procedure, it was introduced twice more in 1993 and 1994, and then became permanent, without the need for yearly introduction.

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The official name of the week when originally introduced in Congress in 1991 was National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. In the intervening years, it has become known by several other names, including National Public-Safety Telecommunications Week and International Public Safety Telecommunicator’s Week.

The Congressional resolution also stated there were more than 500,000 telecommunications specialists, although other estimates put the number of dispatchers at just over 200,000. The Congressional figure may include support personnel and perhaps even those in the commercial sector of public safety communications.

Polk County began trying to show its 911 telecommunications personnel its appreciation last year by recognizing and celebrating National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. This year it is April 10-16, 2016.

Join us in thanking these individuals for the great service and dedication they provide the citizens and emergency service agencies in Polk County.

-Submitted by Marty McGuinn