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Mayor Bowser Recognizes Office of Unified Communications During Back to Basics Week

Thursday, April 6, 2023
Mayor Bowser Highlights New Investments in the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget for Improving Communications Technologies and Celebrates a New OUC Junior Academy

(WASHINGTON, DC) Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser continued Back to Basics week by highlighting the essential services of the Office of Unified Communications (OUC), which takes, on average, 3,000 911 calls and 3,100 311 calls per day. During the event, the Mayor highlighted new investments in her Fiscal Year 2024 budget proposal to support public safety and also celebrated OUC’s new Junior Academy for high school students seeking careers in public safety.

“Oftentimes, people are calling 911 in what could be the worst, most frightening, most stressful moment of their lives. We know when that happens, the OUC team is not only going to make sure we dispatch help quickly, but they are also the human connection who helps that person through their crisis,” said Mayor Bowser. “We are grateful for our team at OUC – our first first responders – and with this budget, we’re investing in the technology and tools that our public safety teams rely on.”

OUC provides the District with critical public safety services for residents and visitors. In fiscal year 2022, OUC had more than 325 employees that handled 1.3 million 911 calls and 1.6 million calls for city services and information through 311. OUC is also responsible for the District-wide coordination and management of public safety radio coverage for almost 9,000 radio users, including Fire and Emergency Medical Services (FEMS), Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), US Secret Service, and other federal partners operating in the District.

During the event, the Mayor highlighted investments that were included in the Fiscal Year 2024 budget proposal to support public safety, including:

  • $7.1 million to support the replacement of portable radios for MPD and FEMS, construction of a new 4-D Tower, renovation of the Public Safety Communications Center, and for the FirstNet Distributed Antenna System;
  • Maintaining $2.5 million in OUC’s operating budget for the ongoing support of Next Generation 911 and related enhanced public safety communications services. This funding supports core services, systems, and databases related to the transfer of 911 calls and call data in the National Capital Region, enhanced call routing, and upgrades to thwart attacks on our telephone systems; and
  • $400,000 to support OUC’s call center workstation enhancement project to upgrade 911 and 311 hardware. 

The Mayor also highlighted OUC’s new Junior Academy that started in March. The Junior Academy is a free, five-week program offered to DC high school students who have a passion for public safety and are looking to obtain a career with OUC. The Junior Academy provides high school students with an overview of 911 and 311 communications, call handling simulations, a question-and-answer session with OUC leadership, and a mock CritiCall test—which is a national pre-employment test for 911 call takers and dispatchers. The Academy also provides high school students with an overview of MPD patrol services, specialized policing units, a tour of the 1st District police station, as well as an introduction to the DC FEMS Department. Upon successful completion of the five-week program, participants will receive a certificate of completion during a graduation ceremony.

High school students who are interested in attending the OUC Junior Academy this fall are encouraged to submit an interest form that is available HERE.

“The Junior Academy allows bright and dedicated high school students in all eight wards the opportunity to pursue and learn more about an honorable career in public safety,” said Acting OUC Director Heather McGaffin. “Our goal is to continue to hire passionate individuals who show up each day with the desire to help the residents and visitors of our city.”

Mayor Bowser and Director McGaffin also recognized a 911 call taker who recently provided medical advice and support to a caller with a family member in distress.

Back to Basics Week is an opportunity to showcase progress and innovations in city services, highlight the work of District Government employees, and share information with residents about how they can support their neighborhoods.

For more information on the Junior Academy, visit ouc.dc.gov.

Learn more about Mayor Bowser’s FY24 Budget at budget.dc.gov.