Friday, November 28, 2008


I like to read my husband's police magazines at times. Between books when visiting the throne room. Usually that's all they're good for as they repeatedly ignore a very important component of officer safety, US - THE DISPATCHERS. Sorry. My personal feelings of resentment took over for a moment.

There is an interesting column written I found in the back of one of those magazines (that over look the importance of US - The Dispatchers)(whoa, guess I am not holding on as tight to my emotions as I thought) that gave me a little pause for contemplation.

It is an article of retrospect of how upon graduating from the academy he began preparing for his sergeant's exam at least three years away, keeping his eye on the next rank and moving forward. He would become a lieutenant before retirement. The crux of his article though was, in a nutshell, "some of the most important things I have done in life were not as a lieutenant, but as an officer, a father, a husband, or a friend."

That's all very nice for an officer to contemplate or live or work towards, but there isn't anything like that in Dispatch. The best we can hope for is to become, first, a trainer (a whole 5% pay raise for all the extra paper work and responsibility) and maybe, just maybe, become a supervisor (where another 15% pay raise helps offset the new headaches coming your way.) But these two steps still keep us in the same windowless padded walls basement overcrowded room.

Records Clerks on average make less money than Dispatch. But they can promote to Division Secretaries and Area Clerks, working among detectives and out of area/substation offices. Also, on average, there are more Records Supervisors than Dispatch Supervisors, so more opportunities to promote within Records themselves. With the new assignment comes a pay raise, but gives them the opportunity to meet and greet and tackle a new challenge and learn a new skill.

Yes, there are very few jobs that will give a person a more thrilling and scary ride or more unique problem solving opportunity than law enforcement and fire dispatching. The very job is wrought with challenges and a constantly moving topography of rules and laws and needs.

But I guess my point is, that's all we get. Year after year. Some departments do allow their dispatchers to take specialized training, like disaster management or hostage crisis or swat call out dispatching. But many times the dispatcher has to take the initiative and pay for it themselves, because they care about their jobs enough to go the extra mile. And still many times the department overlooks these new learned skills to write manuals on how they want things done, when training and experience from the point of a dispatcher is totally ignored. And the good dispatcher moves and flows with the demands asked of their superior officers and incorporates their knowledge within the perimeters set by the uneducated to the point the senior officer believes it was always written and understand to work that way.

It would be nice if police magazines at least carried a column written by a dispatcher over the concerns and jobs and abilities of a dispatcher. Maybe focus ever so often on a dispatcher that truly goes up and over and out of their way to make their job better and safer.

It would be nice and very smart for agencies to be as concerned for additional training for their dispatchers as they are for their officers. (Yes, I know, part of the reason agencies send officers to training is because they get reimbursed by POST or other such state governing agency.)

And it would be truly wise for dispatch supervisors and agencies to look for ways to keep their dispatchers in touch within their agency through occasional temporary postings or assignments that gives the dispatcher the opportunity to be a more recognized proactive member of the agency to keep their assigned populace safe and secure. And to help levitate a little of the constant barrage of negativity usually sent the direction of those hardworking diligent and dedicated communications center employees. US DISPATCHERS. (ahem)


The Dispatcher and Her Officer said...

I once asked to be trained in swat and negotiations dispatching.. I was flatly told no.. that everyone of us could handle that type of dispatching. Maybe thats why no one volunteers for the calls when they are needed.

Liz said...

Extremely well put!

There really does seem to be little room or opportunity for training. We hired one supervisor just for that purpose and he hasn't done crap for us....then they promoted him up one more level!

What would be nice too is if the officers would do ride a longs in dispatch periodically. Our veteran officers tend to get snippy with us on the air. It's as if they think we're withholding info from them on the air or something.....geez.

tired.dispatcher said...


I know of several senior tranining officers who have suggested, in writing - more than once, that all new officers in training should put in a minium of 40 hours in the dispatch center. And that all officers should put in 10 hours a year as part of their continued education. Because it is important to keep officers and dispatchers connected.

cj said...

I'm an officer on a very small public safety department at an equally small university. We have on of the state's best criminal justice programs and we utilize those students as auxilary officers. I tell them, constantly, that I would rather have one well trained dispatcher than five or six additional officers standing around when things hit the fan. Dispatchers are worth their weight in gold and every street officer should damn well know that. It's a shame they don't.

Here's a suggestion - submit an article to one of those law enforcement magazines. Write about the professional needs and abilities of a dispatcher. Maybe they'll listen.