Police receive dispatcher accreditation

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Lakewood Police Department’s communication center has become one of only seven public-safety agencies in the state to receive the Association of Public Safety Communications Official (APCO) International Project 33 Training Program Certification.

The accreditation is the result of 14 months of work by police and communications officers, and comes after 106 different standards had to be meet.

“It took a lot of work to show that we were compliant with the standards of the APCO Project,” said Jodi Malpass, communications manager with the Lakewood Police. “We had to be able to show that we can teach to these standards, how we teach and how we test.”

According to information provided by the police, “Public-safety agencies use the APCO Project 33 certification as a formal mechanism to verify that their training programs meet national standards.

This kind of initial and continual training for public-safety telecommunicators, also known as 911 dispatchers, is important as they provide essential services to the public in an expanding and rapidly changing environment.”

Malpass said Colorado is one of the states that doesn’t require training for emergency dispatchers, but the department wanted its team to be as prepared as possible for any situation.

“Dispatchers are the lifeline between the police and the community,” Malpass said. “We want to give training to make sure our dispatchers are ready to receive whatever is thrown at them.”

The process for accreditation required updating the dispatcher training, reworking the curriculum and writing new tests for trainees.

For the department, receiving the APCO recognition shows its commitment to the community.

“It shows a level of professionalism that has been achieved, and lets everyone know we’re operating at a very, very high level,” said Steve Davis, public information officer with the police.

“It’s something our department can be extremely proud of,” he said.