Dispatchers (Emergency Communications Officers) are the initial first-responders in Idaho’s 46 primary and several secondary 9-1-1 centers. Their responsibility in the administration of public safety is extremely critical and consequential. There should be a compelling demand that those rendering life and death instructions to panic stricken callers, police officers and others be properly credentialed and trained.
An effort for mandatory certification was spearheaded earlier this year by the Idaho PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point) Standards & Training Committee, a committee formed and supported by the Idaho Public Safety Communications Commission’s 9-1-1 funding. On December 1, 2016, ISP Lt. Kevin Haight provided the POST Council with updates on the committee’s efforts:
- The Idaho Sheriffs’ Association will introduce legislation during the 2017 Legislative Session, which would establish a state-wide, mandatory 9-1-1 dispatcher certification and training requirement, with Idaho POST (Peace Officer Standards & Training) as the certifying agency. It would require a minimum of 40 hours academy or online training in basic emergency dispatching, and a biennial minimum of 40 hours of continuing education.
- Initial administrative funding is provided through a grant from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission, who on June 2, 2016, awarded $44,910 to the Idaho Public Safety Communications Commission (IPSCC) in support of POST’s “administrative costs” associated with “emergency communications officer” certification. These funds came from the Qwest Assurance Performance Plan (QAPP) Tier 2 funds. Additionally, the Idaho Public Safety Communications Commission (IPSCC), by unanimous vote on October 6, 2016, committed to funding the administrative costs incurred by POST, up to $15,000 annually, after the QAPP Tier 2 funds are depleted. Neither a State budgetary impact, nor increases in local or state taxes or fees are anticipated.
- After a request was brought by Lt. Haight, the Idaho POST Council joined the growing list of stakeholder organizations* who have already expressed their support (*Idaho Sheriffs Association; Idaho Chiefs of Police Association; Idaho Association of Counties; Idaho Public Safety Communications Commission; Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association; Idaho Fire Chiefs Association; Idaho EMS Physician Commission; Idaho Department of Health & Welfare (Director Armstrong); Idaho State Police (Director Powell); Idaho Transportation Department (Director Ness); Blaine County Emergency Communications; Idaho EMS Advisory Committee; Idaho State Lodge FOP; Idaho’s Time Sensitive Emergency Council.)
By agency policy, Boise County dispatchers are already required to attend a 2 week dispatch academy offered by the Idaho State Police/POST, but are not State certified.
The proposed draft legislation for certification and de-certification states in part:
[A]ny emergency communications officer employed after July 1, 2017, shall be trained and certified within eighteen (18) months of employment. Current emergency communications officers, who were employed after July 1, 2012, shall comply with the training and certification provisions of this section by January 1, 2019. Current emergency communications officers, who were employed prior to July 1, 2012, may comply with the training and certification provisions of this section at the discretion of their employers.
[T]he council shall decertify any emergency communications officer who is convicted of any felony or offense which would be a felony if committed in this state. The council may decertify any emergency communications officer who:
(a) Is convicted of any misdemeanor;
(b) Willfully or otherwise falsifies or omits any information to obtain any certified status; or
(c) Violates any of the standards of conduct as established by the council’s code of ethics, as adopted and amended by the council.
If passed, this legislation will become effective July 1, 2017. For a full look at the Draft Legislation go to emergency-communications-officer-certification-legislation-draft-11-28-2016
Boise County Connection Staff Writer
Idaho World Contributor