DICE Workshop: Diversity, Inclusion, Civility and Equity in the ECC

Today’s emergency communication centers (ECCs) face many challenges in creating and maintaining high-performing, healthy workplaces. On the inside, ECCs are managing rapid changes in technology as well as staffing issues. Outside the ECC, centers are buffeted by challenging events and changing expectations in the communities they serve. These dynamics add to the inherent stress caused by dealing with callers who are often facing life or death emergencies – stress that can result in unhealthy organizations and lead to employees feeling unaccepted, isolated and unappreciated.

In response to an APCO membership survey in late 2020, the association developed this workshop to address issues identified in the survey that affect diversity, inclusion, civility and equity (DICE) in the ECC. The survey explored many existing and emerging realities in the industry, including practices and policies, and revealed a need for more thought, discussion and action on these issues.

About the Workshop

APCO’s DICE workshop brings together supervisory level staff and others from an emergency communications center alongside agency-specific data to explore experiences and viewpoints to better understand how perceptions – both individual and institutional – can affect how employees interact with each other in their workplace. The workshop also explores interventions to counter biases, microaggressions, incivility and other negative workplace behaviors.

It focuses on behaviors, not beliefs, to recognize actions that undermine colleagues and teamwork. Based on guided discussions, readings and active engagement, participants will actively seek best practices and next practices that will make their agencies healthier and more inclusive organizations where everybody can work as their authentic selves, fully engaged, while contributing to fulfilling the agency’s mission. Workshop participants are tasked throughout the workshop to develop a sustainable effort to reach out to all staff in the ECC and engage them in an ongoing effort to build positive change in the workplace.

Topics include:

  • Diversity, inclusion, civility and equity in the comm center: What does it look like and what does it mean to an agency?
  • Healthy vs. unhealthy organizations
  • Current and upcoming trends in today’s workforce
  • Developing positive workplace behaviors
  • Readiness for positive change: personal and organizational
  • Implementing change: allies, sustainability and accountability
  • Reaching out to include all staff members in the DICE effort

Application Process

Hosting the workshop requires that an ECC and its leadership be fully committed to improving DICE-related issues in the center since participants will be tasked with establishing and implementing a plan to address issues identified in the workshop. Offered only on an agency level, there must be a commitment to full participation by ALL supervisory level personnel; CTOs, shift supervisors, and other management to include agency directors for the full 24-hour workshop, as well as a signed commitment by the agency director to continue to implement the developed plan after the workshop concludes.

Interested ECC directors should contact [email protected] for more information about bringing the DICE workshop to their agencies.

Workshop Facilitators

Dr. Steven Edwards, Ph.D.

Dr. Edwards has more than 40 years of experience in the law enforcement, criminal justice and leadership fields. He served as a senior policy advisor for law enforcement in three different federal agencies with areas of expertise in organizational development and executive leadership for police; officer safety and wellness; community policing; and research on officer use of force.

He has served as a faculty member at the University of Louisville’s Justice Administration Program and Southern Police Institute and as a member of the criminal justice faculty at the University of Alaska-Anchorage. Additionally, Dr. Edwards has served as a consultant to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Police Foundation in Washington DC and has provided management consulting to numerous state and local police departments regarding organizational performance.

Dr. Edwards is the lead educator in APCO’s highly successful executive leadership initiative, the Certified Public Safety Executive (CPE) Program, and personally leads CPE 303 and 404.

He received his Ph.D., MS, and BS from the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University and has held fellowship appointments to the Police Foundation, Washington DC, and to the Kennedy School of Government, Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management at Harvard University.

Athena Butler, MS

Ms. Butler has more than 35 years of experience in public safety, including more than 30 years at the leadership level. A former police captain, she also served as Director of Emergency Communications and Citizen Services for the City of Virginia Beach, VA, and as Executive Director of Denver (CO) 9-1-1.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Administration from the University of Maryland Global Campus and a Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins University in Management/Public Safety Leadership.

Ms. Butler is the owner of multiple businesses including a package delivery business, The BUTLER Delivered It, established in late 2021, as well as a consulting business as a leadership coach, facilitator and presenter to those engaged in government, private industry and small businesses.

She enjoys a schedule that allows her family time and travel.  She truly enjoys engaging in study via audio books, podcasts and YouTube University.