Each year, the second full week of April is dedicated to the men and women who serve as public safety telecommunicators. It was first conceived by Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County (Calif.) Sheriff's Office in 1981 and was observed only at that agency for three years. Members of the Virginia and North Carolina chapters of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) became involved in the mid-1980s. By the early 1990s, the national APCO organization convinced Congress of the need for a formal proclamation. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced what became H.J. Res. 284 to create "National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week." According to Congressional procedure, it was introduced twice more in 1993 and 1994, and then became permanent, without the need for yearly introduction.

The 911 CARES project has a wide range of NTW logo products that are great for gifts—or just for yourself! And the project gives back to the dispatching community, so they're worth of support. APCO has a special blog to share NTW celebrations and honors.

The official name of the week when originally introduced in Congress in 1991 was "National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week." In the intervening years, it has become known by several other names, including "National Public-Safety Telecommunications Week" and "International Public Safety Telecommunicator's Week." The Congressional resolution also stated there were more than "500,000 telecommunications specialists," although other estimates put the number of dispatchers at just over 200,000. The Congressional figure may include support personnel and perhaps even those in the commercial sector of public safety communications.

Of course, you don't need NTW to honor your public safety dispatchers for excellence! You can write them a commendation, mention their "good job" at a shift briefing, or just give them a pat on the back.

DISPATCH Magazine On-Line has prepared some materials about NTW that you will find useful as your agency considers how to recognize the dispatchers that have worked so hard during the past year. We've included a link to the Congressional Record for the 102nd Session of Congress that searches and displays official documents about National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week from its origin in 1991.

NTW Resources

We have designed three certificates that you can download and print on colored paper to give to dispatchers that you recognize during National Telecommunicator Week. The certificates are in Acrobat (pdf) format for easy print-out (you can buy "certificate" type pre-printed paper at various stationery stores).

Dispatcher of the Year - Acrobat format
Certificate of Appreciation - Acrobat format
Award of Merit - Acrobat format