Not all heroes wear capes, and that is certainly true of Ohio's public servants who work in emergency communications. That is why each year, during the second week of April, we take the time to honor the telecommuications personnel in the public safety community who choose to dedicate their lives to public service.
National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week highlights the vital role played by dispatchers, 9-1-1 call center workers, national guardsmen and other communicators who diligently serve our community. Anyone who has ever had the unfortunate and frightening need to dial 9-1-1, knows the comfort of a calm, confident and professional voice that will provide help as quickly as possible. These voices are indispensable, and we thank you.
However, often times, we forget that real people are on the other end of that call, and their service comes with a degree of risk and sacrifice. In addition to the everyday stresses associated with this profession, some of our public servants unfortunately receive threats and other negative and unwarranted feedback from the public. For this reason, we owe it to them to keep them, and their families, out of the public eye.
In order to help minimize the risk posed to our public servants, I introduced Senate Bill 4 which aims to protect personal information for public servants who work in emergency communications.
Senate Bill 4 creates a simple public records exception for the personal, identifying information of these individuals to protect them and their families from potential harm. The bill accomplishes this by adding these professions to the state’s list of 20 occupations already offered the protection under “designated public service worker” status.
We owe it to our public servants and their families to prevent their residential and familial information from falling into the wrong hands, putting them at risk. This legislation takes an important step to provide an additional layer of protection for the people who protect us.
With bipartisan support, Senate Bill 4 unanimously passed the Senate in February, and is now pending in the Ohio House of Representatives' Civil Justice Committee. If this legislation is something you would like to be signed into law, I encourage you to reach out to your state lawmakers and make your voice heard.
I hope you will join me in celebrating National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, and remember to thank all those who sacrifice so that we may live in a safer Ohio. If there is someone who stands out to you as an inspiration, you can submit entries at https://www.npstw.org/whos-your-public-safety-superhero/, so that they may be recognized. Entries must be submitted by April 19, 2021 at 9:00 a.m.