Cheryl Kagan | Maryland State Senator - District 17
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2020 NG911 Commission Report

LINK TO THE OFFICIAL REPORT

December 14, 2020

Governor Larry Hogan
State House
100 State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401

Senate President Bill Ferguson 
State House, H-107 
100 State Circle 
Annapolis, MD 21401 

House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones
H-101, State House
100 State Circle 
Annapolis, MD 21401 

Re: Next Generation 9-1-1 Commission’s 3rd Annual Report per Chapter 302, 2018 (MSAR #11656)

Inspired by the death of Rockville activist and District 17 resident Carl Henn when 9-1-1 failed, I have chaired the Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) Commission for the past three years. We previously released two annual reports in 2018 and 2019 that were incorporated into nine laws with bipartisan support. As a result of our efforts, Maryland is a national leader as we transition to NG911. As my Senate colleague Ed Reilly frequently says, “Our 9-1-1 system is one of the most important services the government provides. It can literally mean the difference between life and death.” 

On August 20th, 2020 Maryland launched a statewide “text to 9-1-1” program to request emergency assistance. Those in need of police, fire, or paramedics should always call if they can but can now text if they can’t. With the assistance and leadership of the Maryland Association of Counties’ Emergency Communications Committee, “all boats rose together,” leaving no jurisdiction behind. 

As you’ll see in this 65-page report, there are 22 recommendations, many of which will be included in 2021 legislation. We tried to write in plain English so as to be accessible even to those who are not familiar with 9-1-1 jargon. While most acronyms are translated, we’ve also included a glossary.

Issues were debated and approved by our four subcommittees: Finance & Structure; Oversight & Accountability; Staffing & Training; and Cybersecurity & Technology, and then voted on by the full Commission. Among the highlights are:

  • Requiring training for 9-1-1 Specialists regarding psychological well-being and resilience;
  • Conducting a study to determine whether workers’ compensation should be extended to 9-1-1 Specialists for exposure to trauma;
  • Modifying the membership of the 9-1-1 Board to include specified NG911 experts; 
  • Authorizing the 9-1-1 Board to fund recruitment programs for 9-1-1 Specialists;
  • Encouraging organizations assisting domestic violence victims to provide cell phones with full-service access;
  • Ensuring that county NG911 contracts require providers to use standardized geographic data; 
  • Allowing individual counties to designate enforcement authority for Kari’s Law; 
  • Updating procedures to notify 9-1-1 centers, the 9-1-1 Board, and the public during certain 9-1-1 outages; and
  • Shifting the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) to a Cabinet-level entity and housing the 9-1-1 Board within MEMA.

The Congressional NG911 Caucus is another partner in our policymaking. I am gratified that seven of our ten federal legislators are members. Thanks to Senator Van Hollen and Representatives Brown, Mfume, Raskin, Ruppersberger, Sarbanes, and Trone for your awareness and support. I am hopeful that Maryland will be the first state to have its entire delegation join the Caucus.

Vice Chair Steve Souder continues to be an invaluable partner and deserves special acknowledgment for his 53 years of 9-1-1 expertise. I am deeply grateful to the Commissioners and observers; subcommittee Chairs Richard Brooks, Randy Cunningham, and Charlynn Flaherty; my legislative colleagues Senator Ed Reilly and Delegates Michael Jackson and Susan Krebs; Kevin Kinnally of the Maryland Association of Counties; Mission Critical Partners and other consultants; my legislative staff; industry experts; and the devoted public servants who respond to 9-1-1 calls every day. 

In our third year, some Commissioners had a “shift change.” Cybersecurity & Technology Chair Bill Ferretti retired as Montgomery County’s 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Center Director. Wayne Darrell, Emergency Services Director at Kent County, stepped down from the Commission. Oversight & Accountability Chair Richard Brooks retired as Cecil County’s Director of Emergency Services on December 4th. I wish them well in their next chapter; their public safety expertise will be missed. 

Despite the progress that has been made to improve our 9-1-1 emergency response systems, there is more work to be done. SB47/HB44 extended the Commission’s tenure for an additional two years, giving us more time to ensure the success of Next Generation 9-1-1.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or need more information. We are united in our commitment to saving lives as we modernize Maryland’s emergency services.

Respectfully submitted,

Cheryl C. Kagan

Cheryl C. Kagan
Senator, District 17 (Rockville & Gaithersburg) 
NG911 Commission Chair

PS: If you want to learn more about Steve Souder, he was a guest on my “Kibbitzing with Kagan” podcast. You can watch the episode here: https://youtu.be/nnMaX9cmtDE.

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