Bill Recognizing Dispatchers as First Responders Moves Forward
SACRAMENTO – Yesterday, Assembly Bill 1945 (AB 1945), which will recognize the brave work of public safety dispatchers by reclassifying them as first responders, passed with bipartisan support out of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee. Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), who authored the legislation, joined law enforcement, firefighters, and dispatchers from around the state to provide supportive testimony for this important bill.
Currently, the Federal government describes dispatchers as an “administrative” or “clerical” occupation. This misclassification does not accurately describe the work of dispatchers who undergo extensive training and whose work can mean the difference between life and death. The idea for this bill was brought to Assemblymember Salas by a local dispatcher from Kings County.
“I am pleased to see dispatchers getting one step closer to being recognized as first responders,” said Assemblymember Salas. “The safety of our communities depend on the incredible work of our emergency dispatchers who are the first to respond during emergencies. AB 1945 will finally provide dispatchers with the recognition and respect they deserve for the lifesaving work they do every day.”
Public safety dispatchers play a vital role in emergency response. They routinely communicate with individuals in great distress, harm, fear, or injury, including during active shooter situations. There are currently over 6,000 dispatchers employed in California who responded to over 27 million 9-1-1 calls in 2018 alone.
“It is important to recognize Public Safety Dispatchers and Public Safety Telecommunicators for who they are and what they do in response to emergencies,” said Tina Brazil, President of the California Highway Patrol-Public Safety Dispatchers Association and Senior Vice President of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association. “They are highly trained emergency responders who are the first in line of the many people who respond to help, reduce and save citizens during accidents, criminal acts of violence and natural disasters. We work as a team where we are all first responders.”
Assemblymember Salas was joined at today’s hearing by Tina Brazil, Don Jones, Dispatch Manager with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department, representatives from the Northern California Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (NAPCO), the California National Emergency Number Association (CALNENA), the State Sheriff’s Association, and local law enforcement and fire officials who called-in to voice their support for AB 1945.
AB 1945 will now move to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Assemblymember Salas represents part of the City of Bakersfield, the cities of Arvin, Hanford, Corcoran, Delano, Lemoore, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco, and the communities of Armona, Avenal, Buttonwillow, Home Garden, Kettleman City, Lamont, Lost Hills, Stratford and Weedpatch.