Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Criminal Justice Services
Department of Criminal Justice Services
Rules Relating to Compulsory Minimum Training Standards for Dispatchers [6 VAC 20 ‑ 60]
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2/11/16  11:00 am
Commenter: Jason Malloy, Shenandoah County Dept. of Emergency Communications

Increased Training Needed

In today's day and age, the provision of 9-1-1 services to the commuinity are drastically different than they were just a few years ago, and will be even more drastically changed as Virginia (and the country as a whole) move towards making NextGen 9-1-1 a reality.  Technology, procedures, liabilities, etc. all change in the blink of an eye for public safety, and Public Safetey Telecommunications is no different.  As an industry, the miminum requirement of 40-hours of training from DCJS with no recertification requirements is simply not enough training.  To make matters worse, agencies who do not answer the calls for Law Enforcement are not held to the standard and are therefore not held accountable to the standard (potentially decreasing the level of service provided to some citizens in the Commonwealth.)

First and foremost, the number of hours needs to be increased.  40 hours simply isn't enough time to teach everything that needs to be taught to provide the best level of service to the citizens.  As an example, the State of Florida changed their legislation within the past 2-3 years to require more training for public safety telecommunications.  At the present time, the Florida standard is to consist of not less than 232 hours.  The curriculum is run through the Florida Department of Education, with testing performed by the Florida Department of Health (similar to how EMTs and Paramedics are tested.)  The full webiste can be found here  There are several other states with very similar requirements and legislation.  The Association of Public Safety Communication Officials (APCO) has already worked to create a baseline/example legislation that could very easily be tweaked for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The second issue with the training program as it stands is the lack of a recertification requirement for Public Safetey Telecommunications.  Law Enforcement Officers, Basic Jailors and Animal Control Officers are all certified by DCJS and are required to perform a certain number of in-service hours each two-year period.  This is done so that they may presumably remain current on the law, new ways of handling situations, etc. etc. etc.  With the speed at which Public Safetey Telecommunications is changing, the new liabilities that are faced with each passing year, etc., those in this industry must participate with a certain level of professional development to remain current.  With the advent of NextGen 9-1-1, these changes will be even more drastic with no current requirement to remain current.

It is essential that DCJS along with other stakeholders within the Commonwealth (e.g. 9-1-1 Services Board, Virginia Departments of Health, Education, Fire Programs, Transportation and other stakeholders such as Virginia Chapters of APCO and NENA [National Emergency Number Association], Virginia State Police, etc.) work to develop a training curriculum and accompanying legislation that allows for a more well-rounded, professional certification program to better serve the citizens of the Commonwealth.

CommentID: 49584