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  • Dispatchers

    I'm hoping to start a constructive thread, not an argument.

    It seems like every time there is a thread about dispatchers, it is in the squad room, so dispatchers can't participate.

    I'd like to know what officers expect from their dispatchers. I see a lot of differing opinions regarding how often you're checked on, copying traffic, forgetting to follow through on requests, etc.

    In my opinion most misunderstandings go both ways. Sometimes we (dispatchers) forget that you're standing out there outnumbered, or driving a car 75mph dodging traffic, etc. while we're trying to relay or get information. Sometimes the officers forget that we've got a fire, ambulance, person at the window, 4 phone calls on hold, 3 officers on the side band, etc.

    Also, how is the relationship between officers and dispatchers at your department?

  • #2
    I have done both jobs. You hit the nail on the head. Very simply, both sides need to be more mindful of the other. Each thinks they have the more difficult job and each thinks the other side is lazy and stupid.


    • #3

      Our academy made us spend half a day in the dispatch center so that we could know what the other side is like.

      I thought it was really good.

      Sometimes your waiting for a WT check to come back and getting irritated because it's taking so long, but you don't realize the dispatcher has 5 other officers who are also waiting for their WT checks to come back at the same time.



      • #4
        Yep, that's one of the issues that my officers can get crabby about. I'll have an officer run 4 people on the air, by their DL numbers and ask for all available info. That means I have to run all those numbers, then re-input them in as names/dobs because a history doesn't come back from a number. Then I have to go into a seperate program to check for local wants, which is unorganized and entered each time that person does something in town. That means I have to open and check 6 or 7 differen files, which means typing in that name 6 times and finding the right field again. Then I have to look through all of those names and check for IL database warrants, cautions, etc. Then check all the NCIC files. Of course one of the subjects is a common name that comes back with NCIC hits so I have to check all of them. One person's giving the wrong DOB but I find them in soundex and get the info.

        Meanwhile the officer asks 3 times if I have the info yet. I have two more that did traffic stops (checking their info), and have to dispatch 3 more calls for service.

        I'm a dedicated dispatcher, I can't imagine the poor people who have to do call taking and fire at the same time.

        I'm not complaining...but they sure do if the information isn't back in 30 seconds.

        At the same time, there are people on our end that throw a tantrum and give the officers attitude when they have to run a name. That's it.

        I think the dispatch "sit-a-long" is a good idea. However, better towards the end of training. Usually Firefighters sit with us during their first week, or police during their pre-academy ride along. They have no idea what's going on anyway.

        On a second topic, there is a huge difference in the way people act toward each other on the air when they know each other, or are strangers. We work on the 2nd floor of 1 or the 3 departments we work for. There are VERY few officers that ever see any of us, even in the dept we work in.

        Knowing an officer personally is much easier because I have no problem asking him or her, "What was with the attitude? Grow up." And they have no problem saying, "Hey, get your act together. I was on a dangerous call and you weren't paying attention." Then we shake hands and make up.

        We can also explain that we're not being jerks, policy says. 90% of the officers don't know our policies when interacting with their department, so they get very aggrivated at things we do, thinking that we're stupid, incompetant, don't care, or are picking on them. We're actually trying not to get fired.
        Last edited by Item9; 09-19-2009, 03:07 AM.


        • #5
          I have a love hate relationship with our dispatch. Nuff said.


          • #6
            I got certified as a dispatcher last year, while on patrol, to get a better understanding of what life is like up there. That being said, my issue with folks up in our communications is their lack of SAFETY when thinking about those on the street. I find it is summed up two ways:

            1) Lazy - they ask little to no questions to a 911 caller. For example, if I'm on the way the to a domestic, take a moment to ask for suspect information, don't just put "he's still on-scene." So what happens if he leaves before I get there, and I drive/walk right past him. If I knew what he looked like, I could stop him!

            2) Attention Span - oooo... something shiny! Seriously, wtf? If I pull traffic or a subject stop, why does it take you 30 seconds to respond back to me? It's slow, no one has made any requests. Put your book down, stop txting on your cell or checking your facebook, and do your job.

            I am patient, so being slow on requests isn't a big deal, being sent all the ridicilious calls one after another, or taking forever to clear me for lunch is fine. I can put up with that. Just keep safety top priority.

            I am blessed to work with some great dispatchers but I also have some that should have been put out to pasture a long time ago. How they still remain employed as a dispatcher, let alone a dishwasher, is beyond me.


            • #7
              The dispatchers in our County are Fast, Precise, and Good at what they do. Unless they are swamped, there is milliseconds between a request and acknowledgment. Other than the initial call out of 10-38 and location and plate, the whole stop is done on the squad computer. I think most officers in my area appreciate the dispatchers and are very patient with them because we all know how vital they are to the job.

              But then again we have great Dispatchers.


              • #8
                .................................................. ......................
                Last edited by Tee.Elle.; 08-31-2010, 01:44 PM.


                • #9
                  When I was brand new at my first PD job, we had an old guy dispatching. I'm introduced to him and he says, " You get to run 3 plates a night, after that call FXX PX (a different PD)."


                  • #10
                    As dispatchers, our department sends us on ride-alongs during the radio phase of training....I think it makes a huge difference in your dispatching.

                    Deputies also ride-along with us during their phase training. They spend a full shift...4 hours on 911, 4 hours on Inquiry, 4 hours on their radio. I think they come away knowing that some of what bugs them is not something we do on purpose.

                    I feel fortunate to work in California, where there are POST standards, and for an agency big enough to be able to do in-depth training. Officer Safety is our primary is featured in every step of training...and problems are addressed immediately.

                    We are also big enough to have call-takers, dispatchers and a dedicated radio for wants/warrants. It is not easy to juggle a phone and a radio....I may have two ears, but they don't hear independently.

                    I think we could all agree that being a sworn officer requires certain skills, and some just can't be taught. Street smarts? Heightened awareness? Tenacity? I'm sure those of you in the field have dealt with candidates and rookies that looked great on paper, but they just did not have that "something" that will make them successful/safe in the field?

                    I think it's the same for dispatchers. There is a combination of skills and temperament that has to be there, and some of it can't really be taught.

                    I got some great advice on a ride-along...."next time a deputy is a d*ck on the air, just remember we all hear him, and we think he's a d*ck too." I'd say the same goes for dispatchers. Next time a dispatcher blows you off, remember there are many of us committed to providing you the best service possible, and those dispatchers p*ss us off.
                    Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.



                    • #11
                      We happen to have some of the best dispatchers in the world at our agency... Not only are the good under pressure but almost always willing to help with those silly questions only suitable by phone haha...

                      I try to make it a point to stop in every once in awhile to get to know the new faces and introduce myself as well as say hi to the seasoned dispatchers I have gotten to know over the years.

                      It really does make working with them a lot more enjoyable and in my opinion it increases safety when you truely get to know your dispatchers and their strengths/weaknesses...
                      ...Did you call the Boys in Blue or the Man in Tan?


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ChiTownDet View Post
                        When I was brand new at my first PD job, we had an old guy dispatching. I'm introduced to him and he says, " You get to run 3 plates a night, after that call FXX PX (a different PD)."
                        How come he said that? Was it laziness or policy??
                        "Abandon your animosities and make your sons Americans." - Robert E. Lee, 1865


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Tee.Elle. View Post
                          I'm elated when my dispatcher DOESN'T have an attitude in her voice with everything she says like she hates life and ISN'T acting like it's the end of the world when she's asked to perform her normal job functions such as running tags and warrant those are extraordinary tasks or something.

                          I am fortunate to work for a large department with a large dispatch center. However on most nights the dispatchers can be down right rude. We have a decent relationship with the dispatchers, but there are certain ones that have problems with certain officers, and they let it be known with their attitude over the air. Over all I think they do a pretty good job here. There is only one dispatcher here that I can honestly say I hate hearing his voice on the radio. He must have dirt on everyone of his bosses, because he should have been fired years ago. This guy has mocked officers voices over the air. I have caught him lying about running people for warrants, he said they were clear and I'm looking at the NCIC hit on my computer. Just last week he failed to let some of my partners know that a person was armed on a run they were making. They found out from the fire fighters who were on scene. Their dispatch knew and told them, but not our guy who got the same information at the same time as fire dispatch.

                          Safety is the biggest thing for me. Sorry for the rant :/
                          Last edited by Tat2d Cop; 09-19-2009, 08:16 PM.


                          • #14
                            Wow if we let some of those officer safety issues slide we would be reprimanded in a heart beat.

                            Crabby dispatchers get on my nerves too. Not only is it embarassing for my place of work, but it makes my job that much more difficult when I get on the air. You can tell when a bad or crabby dispatcher gets off the air when you get on because all the officers are more on edge. They all get angry and worked up because of those same officer safety issues, dispatchers that can't keep up with where they are, etc.

                            However, we have our share of crabby officers also.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by HEDP View Post
                              Our academy made us spend half a day in the dispatch center so that we could know what the other side is like.
                              Our recruits do the same, however they do it in FTO. It is a nice idea, and every once in a while you will get one recruit that comes in and asks questions, wanting to learn about whats going on, but most are there just watching the clock, not giving a care at all about whats happening right in front of their face. I know you signed up to be a cop and not a dispatcher, but you have to have some understanding about whats happening on the other end. At the same time, I would say the same for dispatchers. They should have to go out and ride once or twice with an officer, so they can have the same experience.

                              A lot of officers blame dispatchers for not copying them because they were on the computer, reading, texting on their cell, playing cards, watching a movie, etc. And it would be a dead lie if I said that didn't happen. However a large part of the missed transmissions also come form officers not communicating correctly. What I mean is either not enunciating when talking and sounding like a one year old struggling with their first sentence (Ive done it too...) or not following radio procedure when calling out things like traffic stops. For example, when calling in a traffic stop at my department, it should go:

                              Officer: Unit 1 to headquarters, copy a traffic stop
                              Dispatcher: Go ahead, Unit 1
                              Unit: Traffic stop on Florida Tag ABC123, at First and Main
                              Dispatcher: Unit 1, 10-4

                              However, what we get a lot (and from newer officers mostly it seems):

                              Officer: Unit 1, traffic stop, ABC123, First and Main
                              Dispatcher: ????

                              And that is when you get 10-9'd.

                              Please come in and visit your dispatchers. That will let you see them as human, and not just some mysterious voice that comes out of your shoulder mic. It will also let the newer dispatchers ALSO see you as a human and not just some unit number on a screen that she can make go to places. Officers here have to come into our comm center to pick up criminal histories and such, and they run in and out all day. I can count on one hand how many of them stop...or yet simply just slow down on their just say hi or even wave. How long would it take to say, "Hi, I'm Officer Smith. I'm Unit 1 on the radio. Whats your name? ..... Good to meet you, have a good night."
                              When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage then tootle him with vigor.


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