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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2/19/16  1:52 pm
Commenter: Renee B. Meador - Central Virginia Criminal Justice Academy, Lynchburg VA

DCJS Rules Relating to Compulsory Minimum Training Standards for Dispatchers

As with any other field of expertise, the entry level certification(s)/  training for Dispatchers ( Emergency Communications Officers) need to be updated and standardized as is done with all of the standing criminal justice entities under VA DCJS.

To ensure that the anticipated updated competencies are met, AND that the quality and consistency of training meets and validates DCJS expectations, there are 3 levels of training that need to be updated.

            1.         The entry level requirements should be expanded to 80 hours, not to include VCIN/NCIC certification or EMD certification.  With the elevated  performance expectations, including Net Gen, the minimum of 40 hours is not sufficient. Considering that the final 8 hours is generally the testing process for practical applications, that means the current classroom instruction is merely 32 hours, which includes written testing. This is not sufficient for today’s Dispatcher to learn today'score competencies..

            2.         Practical testing.  The scenarios need to be upgraded to be a more effective, relevant, and realistic . The Pass / Fail system needs to be articulate, specific, and relevant.

            3.         On-the-job (OJT) training should remain a required element as the responsibility of each agency.

Additionally, as with all other criminal justice entities, anytime time that you CERTIFY personnel, there should be a mandated number of hours of in-service training hours to recertify.   Recertification would ensure that Dispatchers are being held to the same training and certification mandates as all other criminal justice entities in VA. At a minimum, the recertification / in-service training hours mandated should be no less than 16 hours of relevant coursework every 2 years.

Having spent 7 years on Academy staff and still teaching regularly at three of the Virginia regional academies, although I understand that agencies would benefit financially by allowing the entry-level training and required  in-service training to be conducted at each agency, the overall climate for entry-level certification that are already in place by DCJS  ensure that there are never any “short-cuts” taken, and that the testing process is not compromised. The testing process, as it relates to liability AND skill-sets, needs to be in a controlled environment and standardized state-wide. With the electronic grading system in place at each academy, that makes the testing process objective, not subjective through each agency, and records are kept in one central, secure place. With all of our regional acdemies being short-staffed, expecting those personnel to individually validate every student specifically through each agency's own program and subsequent testing, is an unrealstitic expectation.

Additionally, although I understand that VA DCJS is department of CRIMINAL JUSTICE services, there should be provisions for  Fire and EMS basic training  that would allow the testing process to remain under the control of DCJS.  Once individual agencies are allowed to remove testing to off-site locations such as within an agency itself, then DCJS no longer has control of the quality of the testing, both written and practical exercises, and cannot maintain the electronic grading system which keeps all training and testing records in one system.

Using a national standard for training, as has been indicated by numerous other contributors to these comments, is an excellent way to ensure that training is truly standardized.  The recommendation to use  ANSI-approved APCO training standards as a basic entry level certification in place of the current DCJS standards is a sound and practical recommendation.  However, all testing should remain under DCJS control and be consistent with every agency.

Emergency Communications Officers training has been on the back burner as far as upgrading quality, for a number of years. Skill-sets have changed along with technology, which makes the need to revamp this entire entry level program crucial, as well as adding a requirement for in-service hours every 2 years as a recertification process.

CommentID: 49641