Members of Congress Support Classifying ‘Public Safety Telecommunicators’ as a ‘Protective Service’ Occupation

Alexandria, VA – Yesterday, the Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus Co-Chairs – Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA), and Representative John Shimkus (R-IL) – sent a bipartisan letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) urging OMB to revise the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) to accurately represent the complex and life-saving nature of the work performed by 9-1-1 professionals.  This is a welcome development that aligns with recommendations made by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International in formal comments submitted to OMB as part of the revision process.

By way of background, the SOC is one of several classification systems established by the OMB to ensure coordination of federal statistical activities. In the SOC’s current version, 9-1-1 professionals are identified as “Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatchers” and classified as “Office and Administrative Support Occupations.”  In 2014, the OMB initiated a revision for the 2018 SOC.  As part of the revision process, APCO recommended revising the SOC so that 9-1-1 call takers and dispatchers are identified as “Public Safety Telecommunicators” and categorized as “Protective Service Occupations.”

Advocating revisions that align with APCO’s recommendations, the Co-Chairs’ letter points out that a public safety telecommunicator’s job “can entail simultaneously questioning the caller, dispatching first responders, and using advanced technologies to retrieve caller location, medical information, and pertinent location history,” and that the “current classification within the ‘Office and Administrative Support’ major group is not consistent with the specialized training and life-saving nature of the tasks performed by public safety telecommunicators.”

“I am extremely grateful to the Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus Co-Chairs for standing up for 9-1-1 professionals across the country,” said APCO Executive Director and CEO Derek Poarch.  “Throughout the revision process, APCO has staunchly advocated for public safety telecommunicators to be classified in the category for ‘protective’ occupations, alongside police officers and firefighters. I am optimistic that this letter of bipartisan, bicameral support, urging revisions of the SOC that align with APCO’s recommendations will aid our ongoing efforts. Public safety communications professionals play an essential role in emergency response, and we remain committed to ensuring that they receive the recognition they deserve.”


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APCO International is the world’s oldest and largest organization of public safety communications professionals and supports the largest U.S. membership base of any public safety association. It serves the needs of public safety communications practitioners worldwide – and the welfare of the general public as a whole – by providing complete expertise, professional development, technical assistance, advocacy and outreach.