Staffing and Retention Tool Kit For Public Safety Communications Center Managers


The tools in this tool kit were developed by researchers at The University of Denver Research Institute for APCO International. The APCO Project RETAINS (40) Committee directed a national study of staffing and retention issues in a random sample of public safety communications centers in 2004. A second study was conducted in 2005 to find out if staffing and retention issues were different in large centers (using the CALEA definition, a large center has 76 or more employees). In 2018, APCO commissioned a follow-up study with George Mason University Center for Social Science Research that builds on both the 2005 and 2009 reports to observe how these conditions have developed over the past nine years, to reassess the perceived utility and utilization of Project RETAINS, and to add a new section detailing the use and knowledge of new technologies in ECCs. The tools are research-based and designed specifically for Emergency Communications Centers. The research reports and an Effective Practices Guide are available in pdf format under the Resources tab above.

The Tools

There are three powerful tools that are designed to provide you with useful information that can be used to estimate appropriate staffing levels for the work in your center, calculate your center's retention rate, and conduct an employee satisfaction survey. The tools are:

  1. Staffing Estimator - A series of worksheets that help you calculate the number of employees needed for fixed position and volume-influenced positions.
  2. Retention Rate Calculator - Basic information about the number of employees and employees who left in the previous is used to calculate your center retention rate and compare it to the national rate, centers in your region and in your size group.
  3. Employee Satisfaction Survey - An easy but powerful process for collecting feedback from employees, using survey items designed specifically for public safety communications center employees. Employees can complete the survey in less than five minutes, and you get the results in a customized report, designed to be shared with key audiences (e.g., decision makers or employees involved in quality improvement initiatives). You can review the survey and a sample report prior to making a decision to use it. The online format provides complete anonymity for employees, and higher return rates!

Access to RETAINS

The toolkit is available of a subscription basis. If you do not yet have a subscription, please click here. If you are already an APCO Member, please ensure you have logged into your account to receive the member discount price. If you forgot your log in info, please contact

To learn more about APCO Project RETAINS, please visit the APCO International site.

System Requirements

RETAINS 3.0 supports the following operating systems and web browsers:

  • Microsoft Edge
  • Firefox 54 and up (All operating systems)
  • Google Chrome 60+ (All operating systems)
  • Safari 11 and up