NewsKansas City Public Safety


Missouri Gov. Parson signs bill providing ‘first-responder’ resources to 911 dispatchers

KCPD 911 dispatcher shortage
Posted at 12:59 PM, Jul 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-31 13:59:39-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Among legislation signed earlier this month by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is a bill that 911 dispatchers and telecommunication workers hope will improve their working conditions.

Parson was flanked by first responders during a bill signing ceremony last week in Springfield, Missouri, where he ceremoniously signed Senate Bill 24.

The bill clears the way for 911 dispatchers and telecommunication workers to be classified as first responders. Such a destination opens up additional resources that previously had only been available to more traditional first responder roles such as police, fire and emergency medical services.

On July 6, Zachary Dykes, president of the Missouri Chapters of the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO), was joined by Jamie Taylor, president of the Missouri National Emergency Number Association, and Jeff Holman, president of the Missouri 911 Directors Association, in a letter applauding the bill’s signing.

“Let us be the first to say congratulations,” the letter offered to Missouri’s first responders. “This recognition is well deserved.”

Under the legislation, which is set to take effect Aug. 28, the position of “Public Safety Telecommunication” is eligible to access mental health services thanks to the creation of a mental health fund for first responders.

The bill also formally recognized post-traumatic stress disorder as an occupational disease for first responders. It also works to secure future funding for building out Next-Gen 911 service and other projects.

RELATED | Kansas City officials mull more automated 911 system to cut long call hold times

In a report released last week, the National Emergency Number Association outlined the effects that burnout and increasing call volumes are having on 911 dispatcher employment rates.

“People are not coming to the job because of people turning away from wanting to have public safety careers,” Katrina Holmes, vice president and head of public safety at Carbyne and former director of the Office of Unified Communications in Washington, D.C., said last week. “But you add to that issues with lower pay, dealing with increased call volumes and people feeling burned out, and it becomes difficult to get people into the profession.”

For jurisdictions that utilize the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline, anonymous tips can be made by calling 816-474-TIPS (8477), submitting the tip online or through the free mobile app at Tips leading to an arrest made through the Tips Hotline may be eligible for up to a $25,000 reward.

Annual homicide details and data for the Kansas City area are available through the KSHB 41 News Homicide Tracker, which was launched in 2015. Read the KSHB 41 News Mug Shot Policy.