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We join local law enforcement agencies in celebrating the "hidden heroes" — the telecommunications operators whose behind-the-scenes work is just as important as police you see out on the streets.

This week is National Telecommunicators Week, which occurs every year on the second full week of April as a time to recognize and thank telecommunications personnel in the public safety communications field.

They're called telecommunications officers, communications operators and dispatchers. They're first responders and front-line workers. They serve as the first call takers for all police and fire/medical-related emergencies, with the responsibility to address 9-1-1 calls for service for the Jefferson City Police and Fire departments, Jefferson City Animal Control, Cole County Sheriff's Department, Cole County Emergency Medical Services, as well as the Cole County Fire Protection District, Regional West Fire Protection District, Osage Fire Protection District and the Russellville/Lohman Fire Protection District. The JCPD said they also coordinate call-taking and dispatch efforts for emergencies that arise from the activation of the Cole County Emergency Response Team.

They work 10-hour shifts to ensure they're always available. In addition to receiving and dispatching calls, they maintain records on warrants, orders of protection and so forth. Last year alone, the 9-1-1 Communications Center answered approximately 130,000 phone calls resulting in 90,000 calls for service, including a variety of emergency calls for all police, fire and medical calls within central Missouri, according to a JCPD news release.

"We sincerely appreciate the hard work of our Communications Operators and their dedication to their community. Our operators are a critical lifeline to all first responders and are the unsung heroes that are always there to answer the call," JCPD Chief Roger Schroeder said. "We are extremely proud of their professional contributions to the safety of all who reside, recreate and work within Jefferson City and Cole County."

We trust and rely on their services just like we do with law enforcement officers. Their quick, professional responses have saved lives. During this week, we commend them for their service and dedication.

News Tribune

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