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St. Louis Personnel Committee Approves New Entry-Level 911 Dispatcher Position | Policy

ST. LOUIS — The city’s Public Service Commission on Tuesday voted to create a new entry-level 911 dispatcher position requiring fewer qualifications under a plan by Mayor Tishaura O. Jones’ administration. to reduce response times to 911 calls.

“I hope this will allow us to attract more applicants,” Acting Director of Public Safety Dan Isom told the panel.

But the St. Louis Police Officers Association, the union representing many of the city’s current dispatchers, said the new job category and related issues would need to be negotiated and indicated it may sue. in court about it.

International Association of Fire Fighters Local 73, which represents other dispatchers, also says it should participate in those talks. Both unions say they support the need to improve the city’s dispatch system.

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“We have absolutely no idea what their plans are,” Jeff Roorda, business manager of the police union, said in an interview.

During the meeting, Isom and John Unnerstall, human resources manager for the city’s personnel department, said the creation of the entry-level position is not subject to negotiation because it is a new niche that will not affect existing unionized employees.

“It would have no impact on the existing workers,” Isom said of the new position. “They are still going to get calls from the police, EMS and fire equipment to ship. It won’t change their job in any way.

New entry-level dispatchers would not have to meet the current minimum requirement of at least one year of customer service work or previous experience as a dispatcher.

Under the city’s system, all 911 calls are first directed to the police 911 center. Calls to EMS and firefighters are then re-routed, which sometimes causes delays. Isom said the new entry-level dispatchers would “share responsibility for the initial reception of calls.”

The commission approved the new job class, 3-0, subject to possible changes by the councilman’s office. This caveat was included after panel member Dean Kpere-Daibo asked about the issues raised in a letter received by the panel.

He did not say who the letter came from, but Roorda, the head of the police union, in a strong email to the commission last week, warned of possible litigation due the lack of negotiations on the matter. Roorda called the proposal a “botched plan to merge” three operations that will lead to even longer delays.

Isom, however, said there will be negotiations with unions on another key part of the administration’s plan — placing all police and EMS dispatchers in the same job classification.

It would eliminate pay disparities between existing police and EMS dispatcher positions and also create a new cross-training position that could take calls for both, mayor spokesman Nick Dunne said.

Although the commission also voted on Tuesday to create these two additional classifications, Dunne said they were subject to union negotiations.

Dunne said the city currently has about 40 dispatcher vacancies. Minimum industry standards require that 90% of 911 calls be answered within 10 seconds, but the city’s monthly totals from September to February only averaged 60% of 911 calls answered that quickly.

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