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Fla. Legislators Pursue Mandatory Training

The long legislative task of improved training for Florida’s public safety dispatchers may be closer at hand, after two legislators have introduced bills to make certification mandatory, and to provide funding for the required fees. State Rep. Ken Roberson (R) and Sen. Nancy Detert (R) have introduced companion bills that would establish a minimum of 232 hours of training for certification, would make that certification mandatory, and allow agencies to use state funds to pay the certification fees that the legislation sets up. The issue of dispatcher training in the state came up several years ago, but the legislature has been reluctant to set up and fund a mandatory training program. Legislators approved an optional, unfunded certification program after the high-profile kidnap-murder of Denise Lee in Jan. 2008. Ever since, Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) and Lee’s family have been working to extend the current program. The current proposed bills also expands the definition of dispatcher to include radio dispatching duties, sets up grandfathering criteria for current dispatchers, and establishes 20 hours of update training every two years to maintain certification. Download (pdf) a copy of the proposed Senate bill here.

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