Joanne Perkins was the chief dispatcher at the Mills County Communications Center in Glenwood, Iowa as well as the secretary of the Iowa Chapter of APCO. She went to Boston in August 1990 to attend her second National Conference, hoping to gather some new training topics and presenters. In addition, she wanted to promote the fact that Iowa was hosting the North Central Regional APCO Conference in 1991. On Monday, Joanne attended the opening breakfast, and while walking from the conference center to the Government Center area, was struck and killed by a hit and run driver. The Atlantic Chapter and National APCO personnel rallied around the Iowa Chapter members, providing much-needed support.
Joanne had worked tirelessly to increase membership in the Iowa Chapter and provide low-cost training to Iowa’s Public Safety Communications personnel. She encouraged all planning committees to make the upcoming Conference the best ever. She wanted everything to be done in a professional manner. She wanted Iowa APCO members to realize that they were professionals, despite the low pay, poor working conditions and, for many, low self esteem. Training was vital to attaining professionalism.
Good can come from tragedy. The APCO International Board of Officers established the Joanne Perkins Memorial Scholarship Fund. Many chapters and even individuals contributed more than $20,000 to this fund because there was no better way to honor Joanne’s memory than to make training money available for those who want training but don’t have the means to receive it. And while the number of people in the Iowa Chapter who can say that they ever knew Joanne dwindles, the entire chapter still share her beliefs and goals: public service and professionalism through training.
Alan Chase, former editor of the APCO Bulletin, wrote an article about Joanne that appeared in the August 1995 issue. He said: What I learned that summer (in Boston) and the next spring in Des Moines, IA...is that APCO is a very wonderful organization, not only for the work it does for public safety communications, but for the accompanying camaraderie and friendships it offers. But, most importantly, because of persons like Joanne Perkins. So, ... we remember Joanne and her work for APCO...and we say ‘thank you, Joanne’ ”.
Two scholarship funds were created in memory of Joan Perkins from Mills County: one on the State level and one on the International level.