Colorado county elevates 911 dispatchers to first responders

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AURORA, Colo. (AP) - A Colorado county has elevated its 911 dispatchers to first responders, granting them the same status as police, fire and emergency medical personnel.

The Sentinel reports the 27 dispatchers in Arapahoe County were previously classified as clerical workers. Officials say the change enacted Wednesday will put county dispatchers into a seven-year step system that provides higher pay and increased access to mental health benefits. Arapahoe Board of County Commissioners Chairwoman Nancy Sharpe says the board approved an $180,000 budget request to fund the change last year.

Arapahoe County is the second jurisdiction in Colorado to designate dispatchers as first responders.