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Canada APCO Award

Abbotsford (BC, Canada) police dispatcher Tina Squire will receive the group’s Public Safety Communicator award during the joint APCO-NENA conference Oct. 1-4. She worked for the RCMP as a dispatcher and then joined Abbotsford, in the Vancouver area two years ago. “Tina was selected based on her outstanding skills as an emergency dispatcher over many years, including some very complicated calls such as the tanker spill in 2005 and a kidnapping earlier this year,” said police chief Ian Mackenzie.

Radio Jammer Sentenced

The long-running court case of Jack Gerritsen is over–the 70 year-old has been sentenced to seven years in prison on federal charges of interfering with radio communications. The Amateur radio operator was found guilty last year of broadcasting on Coast Guard, military, law enforcement and other public safety frequencies in the Southern California region over a four-year period. The transmissions included long political rants and obscenities. Gerritsen served 38 months on a previous similar conviction, but soon began resuming his pirate broadcasts when he was released in 2003.

Roof Collapse Hits Radio

A section of roof at the Scott City (Mo.) police station collapsed, drenching the department’s radio base station with water and knocking it out of service. Some time during the night a rusted portion of the roof support gave way, probably caused by air conditioner run-off. That same water flowed down onto the radio gear, police chief Don Cobb reported. A back-up radio has limited range, so the Scott County E911 Center is helping with some radio dispatching.

Dispatcher Group Forming

A group of trainers who have been key in developing the concept of on-scene incident dispatching has formed a national group to recommend standards of certification, qualification, and training. The National Incident Dispatcher Association (NIDA) offers three levels of members, with dues waived for the first 90 days. The concept of dispatchers working on-scene began about 13 years ago, and many local agencies have developed teams of incident dispatchers for regional incidents. Hurricane Katrina sparked interest in mutual aid for dispatching and the incident dispatching concept. Find more information at the association’s Web site here.

APCO Launches VoIP Project

APCO has launched an official project to deal with the issues of VoIP and what it calls, “emerging technology location delivery challenges.” The project is numbered 41 among the associations active projects, and will be a part of its Project LOCATE. According to a press release, Project 41 will, “develop partnerships with vendors and service providers to improve the location information provided, provide public education to manage the expectations of consumers, and create an effective practice guide to include technical and operational alternatives for public safety answering point (PSAP) response.” Find more information here.

Another Shift Idea

Thanks to Sandie for submitting her county comm center’s shift schedule, which takes the place of 12-hour shifts, or their former 8-hour, 6-on/2-off schedule. The advantage is that it allows weekends off every other week, and it’s a longer weekend, too. Read the description and download the spreadsheet here.

Comm Center Profiled

Yet another comm center profile in the newspaper: the Roseburg (Ore.) News-Review describes the Douglas County, and mentions 13-year veteran Ronna Salerno. Read the story and the sidebar of center statistics here.

LAPD Profile

A nice profile of the Los Angeles Police Department comm center appeared in the Daily News, including about 32-year veteran Judy Ruiz. The story coincides with a recruiting drive the LAPD is undertaking for the comm center. Read more here.

Judge Rules in Lawsuit

Waterford (Conn.) dispatcher Laurie Lewis filed a federal lawsuit against the town, its fire administrator and a selectman, saying she was promoted and worked as a supervisor for two years, but was never paid the additional salary she was promised. Now a judge has ruled that she wasn’t entitled to the pay, through a strange circumstances: the supervisor’s position had been eliminated by the town, but the fire commissioners promoted her into the position anyway. She believed she had been promoted, but the judge ruled against Lewis in the lawsuit. She had claimed violations of her property rights and right to due process, as established in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; that the town failed to fairly compensate her under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938; and caused her severe emotional distress.

Airport Interop System

Dallas (Tex.) Love Field has debuted a mesh network technolgy to link the radio systems of different agencies is a major emergency occurs at the huge airport. The system was developed and installed by CoCo Communications, and was funded with $979,100 from a federal DHS grant.

VoIP: State of Union

VoIP Magazine has published a long article describing the current state of VoIP E911, including regulatory and technical issues that have been both solved and yet to be implemented. Read the entire article here.

APCO Reaction on VoIP Law

APCO issued a statement saying that it applauds the U.S. Senate passage of legislation that requires VoIP providers to connect customers to local PSAPs.  “APCO International greatly appreciates the Senate’s bipartisan efforts to adopt VoIP/9-1-1 legislation without provisions that would have undermined the FCC’s rules,” the group said. Wording in a similar bill would have delayed enforcement of the FCC’s previous requirement to link VoIP providers’ lines to the country’s PSAPs. “”APCO International will object to any statutory language that provides loopholes for VoIP providers to avoid 9-1-1 obligations, or delays the enforcement of the FCC Order,” APCO president Wanda McCarley said.

Vonage Response Delay

Bedford (Mass.) police chief James Hicks said a homeowner’s 911 call using a Vonage-enable telephone caused a one to two-minute delay in dispatching units to a house fire, but that the house probably would have been destroyed anyway. He said the homeowner had a previous lived in Arlington, and kept that number when he moved to a new house in Bedford. However, he failed to notify Vonage of his change of address. A second 911 call by neighbor was made on a phone line provided by cable carrier Comcast, and it was mistakenly routed to New Bedford. Hicks said the area of the fire is a new development and may not have been in Comcast 911 database yet. Read more, including Vonage’s reaction here.

Las Vegas Is Hiring

Over 200 persons showed up to take the written test for the Las Vegas (Nev.) Metro police comm center, but officials say just a few of those will successfully pass all the testing and screening processes to fill 80 vacant positions. During a pre-testing meeting with applicants, Karen Krauss of Metro’s personnel department told the group, “(I) want to stress that the dispatch specialists are one of the most important positions to the department, to the community. You are an integral part to get our services out to the community.” After the written test will be another testing round and a background check. It could take a year to get the dispatchers behind the console and on their own.

Text Message Rescue

A dispatcher has to be ready to track down all types of communication: A 14 year-old North Carolina kidnap victim was rescued when she managed to grab a cellular phone and text message her mother. The girl’s father then called police, and dispatchers then had to track down the owner of the phone and its location from cellular company records. Officers responded to the area of the receiving cellular tower and located the girl in the doorway of an underground bunker where she had been held for nearly 10 days. The suspect had fled just after he discovered the girl had sent her message. He was arrested hours later and is in jail. Read more here.