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Emergency dispatchers and law enforcement


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  • Emergency dispatchers and law enforcement

    Hello there, little question for you guys.

    I'm European and I'm a little confused about your emergency services dispatcher and the service since here it has nothing to do with yours.

    I'm curious about that for two reasons, first is that I find it interesting and second is that if I ever do move to the US, this is one of the jobs I'd like to apply for until I could become a citizen. (If that ever happens, getting in as an alien is already hard enough.)

    Basicly here, our emergency services have their own hotline. (17 for police, 15 for EMS and 18 for firefighters)
    Each is manned by sworn officers, paramedics and firefighters, no civilians does that or very rarely. (I guess as a way to have "experts" capable of handling calls better?)

    Now in the US, it seems that civilians does that but they are supervised by sergeants and more, right?
    Also, what kind of training do they go through? How is a civilian capable of dispatching a police vehicle or more to the scene, lets say? Since here the "dispatchers" are usually sergeant or staff sergeants, they have no worries ordering a patrol car (rarely more than SLO/PO3 in a squad car) to move here or there.

    And a last question... Dispatcher/LEOs relations. Are they good, bad, mixed? Good job, bad job?

    Thanks guys, stay safe!

  • #2
    Emergency Dispatchers And Law Enforcement

    I have never been to France, or anywhere in Europe for that matter, so it is hard for me to compare. Here in the United States, it can vary a lot depending on what part of the country you are in. We can call 911, but I think you have 112 in France. Where I live, there is a communications center that answers all emergency calls, whether it is ultimately for police, fire, or EMS. The center is staffed by civilians and also supervised by civilians. It is a Joint Power Agreement. Many other counties near me are dispatched exclusively by the sheriff's office. Some larger police departments have their own communication centers. The state patrol has two communications centers that serve the entire state.

    In other states it is done very differently. You may want to look at the URLs below to learn more.
    https://www.apcointl.org/ http://www.nena.org/

    As far as relations go, it is like anything in life, some places it is very good and other areas, not so much.


    • #3
      Most states in the US have 911 centers that are maintained by their individual counties. Some large cities still like to maintain their own 911 services but their is pressure for merging centers to cut down on cost.

      Almost all centers are staffed by civilians. Generally you will have a separate call taker and dispatcher. The call taker will answer the 911 call and enter the information into the CAD or computer aided dispatch computer. The information will then goto the dispatcher who will radio dispatch the appropriate services (police, fire, or ems).

      I have never seen a problem between the police and 911 people.. They tell you where to go.. you go!


      • #4
        Dispatching in the US is all over the map, so to speak. Our regional dispatch is staffed by civilians but supervised by sergeants. There are also plenty of smaller jurisdictions that have their own dispatch center that is staffed by a lone dispatcher, or maybe two. They may officially report to an administrative sergeant or lieutenant, but, for all practical purposes, their supervisor is the on duty police supervisor of whatever shift they are working. Due to the history of policing in the US, dispatchers don't need to be sworn or need any rank; by virtue of their position they are authorized to direct officers to calls. If things get backed up or there are priority call conflicts, the dispatcher will ask the shift supervisor (or the dispatch supervisor) for direction as to what cars get pulled from one call to another, what calls can hold, etc.

        The relationship is mixed. I think that most officers don't appreciate all of the multi-tasking that dispatchers have to do because the officer is only concerned about having their own issue taken care of. If I happen to walk into the dispatch center at the same time a dispatcher wants to go to the bathroom, I break out in cold sweats.

        A good dispatcher is worth his/her weight in gold. I don't think they get enough respect or enough pay.
        Last edited by just joe; 10-25-2014, 10:33 PM.


        • #5
          To the OP - how well can you handle stress? I mean, REAL STRESS. Like people screaming at you from all different directions and you have to not only hear them all, but help them all at the same time. That's what being a dispatcher is like. Can you type? You need to be able to type.
          Originally posted by RSGSRT
          We've reached a point where natural selection doesn't have a chance in hell of keeping up with the procreation of imbeciles.
          Why is it acceptable for you to be an idiot, but not acceptable for me to point it out?


          • #6
            In my county the dispatch center reports to the Sheriff through the Chief Dispatcher, at least for administrative purposes.as a matter of actual practice though, the ultimate decision making authority rests with the watch officer or shift commander on duty at each individual agency. Our dispatch center covers our office (SO), the county constables, several small town PDs, all fire departments (professional and volunteer) in the county, EMS, and they have some joint responsibility for the state troopers. All are non-sworn professionals who hold, at a minimum, a basic Texas Commission On Law Enforcement Basic Telecommunicator Licence. Our 911 center has both call takers and dispatchers. Both groups have a very stressful job.

            As far as relationships between officers and dispatchers go, things work out pretty well in our area. Disagreements are generally resolved quickly and the do not happen too often. Some of the volunteer FDs have a much different experience.
            In God We Trust
            Everyone else we run local and NCIC


            • #7
              Hey guys, thanks for the answers.

              Looks like our way to answer emergency calls really differs from you then, lots of civilians.
              I also did not know that calls were taken by another group than those who actually communicate with officers and dispatch the situations to them.

              Also, glad to see that in general the relations are good with one another. Working for the french army, I must say that we have too many internal wars impeaching everybody to work properly.

              As for the question I was asked, I'm okay with typing since my current job in the military is clerk. Stress is another thing since you handle real emergencies but also have to keep in mind ressources are limited. I don't think that should be too much of a problem for me though.


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