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I am thinking of changing careers to becoming a police dispatcher. Has anyone done this work? What can you tell me about it? And how to take that career path?
 

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It’s a noble undertaking. A good dispatcher is worth their weight in gold.

Takes the right personality to do it though. If you’re the go getter type that wants to be involved in everything it’s hard to take a hot call and send units there and then not be involved with anything or know what’s going on afterwards.

A lot of otherwise good dispatchers get frustrated with being behind the curtain.
 

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I've done 911/police dispatch in a big city and 911/police/fire/ems dispatch for a small county. What area are you in?
 

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They have been my lifeline for many years. It’s a very stressful, and very needed job. It’s gotta take it’s toll, with some of the strangest and up close and personal things you will ever experience. Some days will be harder and more nonstop than others. Good luck with future endeavors.


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I did it for 7 1/2 years before I went full time as a cop.

It can be stressful on both ends. The caller end and the radio end. Doing that before has helped me be more understanding of dispatchers, because back when I did it I had to deal with condescending jags who also expected to magically pull information out of the air.

Being able to multitask is key. As well as being calm while everything is blowing up.
Like was said, a good dispatcher is worth their weight in gold.
 

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That's a career that I hadn't thought about
 

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As others have said, you need to be able to multitask and be cool under stress. Also, you have to be ok with waiting for the cliff hanger to be revealed. You know the need, you send the cops, then get only pieces of the story once they're on site, and then may get left hanging if things go sideways as you wonder if they are ok when they don't answer the radio at the right time.

Also, if you want to be one of the best dispatchers, you need to be a bit of a mind reader. I never did the job, but really appreciated our dispatchers, especially the sharp ones. Most of ours were solid and did their job well. A couple should never have been retained. Three were top notch. They knew each of their officers, understood our thinking, anticipated our requests and had the kinds of info we'd request before we asked. Those guys were a joy to work with and brought the same level of comfort to a call as having a trusted officer with you as backup.

I'm sure it varies by agency and area, but at my old department, all it required was to apply and jump through the hiring process hoops.

If you can read the replies that show up here and still feel the calling (or feel it all the more) then go for it. It isn't high profile, but it's a critical and, I would argue, noble job.
 

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There is NO way I’d ever do that job, but I’m glad there are those that do. Just like police work, it is high stress followed by boredom then repeat, repeat and repeat.

Depending on the system, you type information into the system with with strange codes, which always confused me. Of course, training and experience will get you up to speed.

Our agency had call takers and dispatchers, and every now and then, a dispatcher had to do both at the same time. Multitasking while juggling cats is a plus while speaking to frantic and panicked people in a calm manner is another.

Also, be prepared to deal with the officers. Egos mixed with stressful situations is the norm. After all, it is their show and not yours. A rapport will build with them over time, and if you get good at the job, you will earn their respect.
 

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It's not an easy job, at least not where I worked. Multi-tasking is constant and being quick on a computer and cool under pressure will be required.
It's a good job and good dispatchers are a godsend.
 

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Dispatching now a days is a hard job that takes training and a lot of common sense. 50 years ago I was working the ambulance service and everyone had to rotate days, evenings, and nights dispatching. At first you were scared to death but learned after a while. You learned to ask the right questions and especially to get directions correct. You kept people on the phone or got their phone number to call back if needed. Sending an ambulance to a rural community sometimes got to be very stressful. We would often get calls like "We need an ambulance at the Williams house on Rural route 2" then hand up before you could get anymore information. Rural Route 2 was 85 miles long. Got the Platt book out and called the Sheriffs office to get the Deputy in that area on the phone. 5 Williams residence in the RR2 area. After several phone calls got the right Williams residence. They were up set that we didn't know where they lived.
 
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You must be an expert with NCIC and state CJ databases within a short period of time. Each dispatch suite, whether Motorola, Harris, or another software provider, has its nuances and issues.

You'll take a lot of abuse from callers, have conflicts with employees and the brass, you'll come to know every other calltaker/dispatcher/records specialist at other agencies, you'll be able to quote emergency numbers to utility providers, and recall officers' voices without ever meeting them.

You have to be very tolerant as well as able to accept a lot of dynamic and compiled stress. Gossip is a huge part of the culture, but you should be able to keep confidences.

Most dispatchers tend to gain weight and some get morbidly obese. Sitting for half a day is not healthy and expect to have urinary tract issues from having to hold your water for extended periods.

A good dispatcher is worth their weight in platinum and rarely ever appreciated for their work. If you decide to pursue the job, good luck!
 

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You gotta be a strong person to do that job but you don't necessarily need to have your chit together.
We would always breathe a sigh of relief when certain people.were on the main channel. Not so much for FD but for PD, a good dispatcher makes a big difference.
Commit yourself to doing the best you can do and you should be OK.

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You may know where you are and God may know where you are, but if the dispatcher doesn't know where you are you best be on good terms with God.
 

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You must be an expert with NCIC and state CJ databases within a short period of time. Each dispatch suite, whether Motorola, Harris, or another software provider, has its nuances and issues.

You'll take a lot of abuse from callers, have conflicts with employees and the brass, you'll come to know every other calltaker/dispatcher/records specialist at other agencies, you'll be able to quote emergency numbers to utility providers, and recall officers' voices without ever meeting them.

You have to be very tolerant as well as able to accept a lot of dynamic and compiled stress. Gossip is a huge part of the culture, but you should be able to keep confidences.

Most dispatchers tend to gain weight and some get morbidly obese. Sitting for half a day is not healthy and expect to have urinary tract issues from having to hold your water for extended periods.

A good dispatcher is worth their weight in platinum and rarely ever appreciated for their work. If you decide to pursue the job, good luck!
You put it so much better than I did.

About the weight problem, sitting behind 2 or three monitors for a shift or a double shift will get anyone if they don't take care of themselves. As agencies modernize, some are going with the desktop that raises so you can work standing up as an option.

There was this one dispatcher that had the sweetest voice, but when you see her in person, let's just say her voice her uh, um, er, her voice didn't match up with her size. I remember new officers and officers from other agencies who've never met her in person and have asked about her. After a trip to dispatch, the realize the error of their interest.

To add, we had another dispatcher who was really thin and cute. For the few years she was there, she stayed that way so it isn't a sure thing to balloon up.

All of what has been offered up here seems like something no sane person would want to pursue, but it isn't all bad. After ALL of this becomes second hand, it just becomes the regular daily grind of any job. Instead of reacting, you will eventually begin to anticipate what needs to be done. Just don't go too far like some and think they can second guess the officer or worse, think they are in a supervisory roll over the officers in the field.
 

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I can’t imagine a harder job. I could not do it. I’d take a hot call and run out the door. If you are the type of person who can do it, good dispatchers are gifts from God.
 
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For small department, PD/EMS/FD I liked the shifts I filled in.
I couldn’t do a busy call center, large department.
It’s very helpful to know the area.
I was in POV with no radio when a incident happened. EMS was given bad info. So calling non emergency # to have dispatch give them directions from my pickup. County gave good info. Dozen plus squad cars responded. EMS went wrong way.
Officers injured. (Not life threatening thankfully)
 

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My academy didn't have enough FTOs to go around, and those with a higher final test score got an FTO while the lower guys/gals went either to dispatch or to assist our school resource officers until an FTO was freed up.

We were were advised of this the week of the final, and THAT was one motivating factor I got a good score - dispatch freaks me out, man!!! Yes, that badly!

Also, back then, our dispatch didn't have CAD so the dispatchers wrote everything down on ruled paper. I don't know which one is worse, but if I got to pick, it would probably have been their early days since that CAD schtuff didn't click in my mind during MDT/NCIC/TCIC training.
 
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