APCO 2023: First General Business Session

The first General Business Session concluded the first day of the 89th annual conference, APCO 2023, in Nashville, Tennessee, with candidates for the office of second vice president offering their visions of the association’s future.

Before their remarks, APCO President Angela Batey introduced APCO members on regional boards and the Commercial Advisory Committee.

Batey introduced new regional representatives and CAC representatives. Batey also introduced the Executive Committee: First Vice President Becky Neugent, who will rise to the presidency, Second Vice President Stephen Martini, who will rise to first vice president, and Immediate Past President Jason Kern. Batey will become immediate past president.

This week APCO members will choose a new second vice president. Vying for the job are Matthew Franke of the Ohio Chapter, Mark Spross of the Oregon Chapter, and Maureen Will of the Atlantic Chapter.

Voting is open until Tuesday at 2:15 p.m. Central Time. If no candidate receives a majority, a runoff will be held between the top two vote-getters in which voting APCO members who gather during the second business meeting on Tuesday are eligible to vote.

The candidates took turns making their pitches at the podium in the Music City Center in downtown Nashville.

Franke, Communications Section Commander, Butler County, Ohio, said among his first memories as a young communications officer was receiving help from APCO-produced manuals and the people he met at area meetings. In recent years, he has served in national roles as Ohio representative on the Executive Council and North Central representative on the Board of Directors.

“When I became a supervisor, I met APCO members who offered answers, support, made it worth that first 3-hour drive to the chapter meeting,” Franke said. “APCO’s been there for me, and I want to be there for APCO, and I appreciate your consideration.”

Franke called NG9-1-1 a “game changer” that deserves focus from the Executive Committee as it deploys nationwide. “With Next Gen 9-1-1 (public safety telecommunicators are) not just going to be first responders, they’re going to be first on scene.”

Spross, executive director of the Marion (Oregon) Area Multi Agency Emergency Telecommunications (METCOM 911), said he has been encouraged to run for the Executive Committee by many in the field. “I do want to represent you, I want to continue to build the organization,” Spross said. “There’s nothing that I have more passion for than public safety, supporting our ECC staff, especially with health and wellness.”

He pointed to NG9-1-1, reclassification of public safety communicators and cybersecurity as issues that he would focus on if elected second vice president. Spross also said it’s important to understand the way APCO’s government affairs staff interacts with the political and governmental system to achieve goals on behalf of the association.

“I’m not perfect, but I will do everything I can to bring a fair balanced approach to our executive committee. It’s important to have quality customer service.”

Will, who is Emergency Communications Director, Newtown (Connecticut) Emergency Communications Center, also serves as president of the Atlantic Chapter. She described her candidacy as putting into action a desire to work on behalf of APCO members who supported her and her ECC in the tragic aftermath of a mass shooting.

“We are member-driven, our boards tell us so,” Will said. “I’m very proud to stand here to talk to the ‘we’ of the association that I hold very dear. Because people like you are the people who held me up 10 years and 8 months ago.’

APCO members also approved a resolution to amend the policy manual to approve a new category for students and educators. Members spoke in favor of the amendment saying it is especially targeted at welcoming young people into the profession who are considering working or actually working as interns in public safety.

Jeff Cohen, APCO chief counsel and director of government relations, delivered a 2023 regulatory update to the assembled APCO membership. He said the association’s legislative and governmental advocacy rests on the idea that “public safety should not bear costs or responsibilities that more properly rest with other parties.” He said advocacy aims to support the operational needs of 9-1-1 professionals and to defend public safety operations’ use of spectrum from interference by new entrants and the FCC.

Cohen said the FCC’s revision of outage reporting rules, harmonizing service providers’ notification requirements, has brought consistency to outage notifications. APCO advocates that the FCC require more timely and more actionable — in the form of maps — information about outages from providers.

For the 4.9GHz spectrum, Cohen said the FCC adopted some of APCO’s recommendations to make the band more flexible for public safety users. He said APCO recommends that public safety’s use of the band must be fully protected in any arrangements to share the band with commercial users.

For the 6GHz band, APCO is urging the FCC to re-evaluate allowing Wi-F access points due to interference concerns.

At APCO’s urging, the FCC proposed rule changes to improve the wireless emergency alerts (WEA) system by “requiring wireless service providers to support multimedia content in WEA messages and collect information on how quickly, accurately and reliably WEA messages were being delivered to their intended targets.”

NG9-1-1 proposed requiring service providers to “deliver 9-1-1 in an IP-based format” and to “route wireless 9-1-1 calls based on the location of the device instead of the location of the cell tower handling the call.”

Cohen also explained that APCO is working in Congress to build support for nearly $15 billion in 9-1-1 grants. “The legislation has received strong bipartisan support in Congress and has been included in a larger bill that would use revenue from spectrum auctions managed by the FCC to fund the NG9-1-1 grants.”

Cohen also said his office is working to move the 9-1-1 SAVES Act that would reclassify public safety communicators from administrative occupation to protective service category. And the PROTECT 9-1-1 Act is an initiative that would benefit the public safety communications industry by providing health and wellness grants for ECCs “and create resources for identifying, preventing and treating post-traumatic stress disorder.”