Police Dispatcher Job Description
A police dispatcher accepts incoming emergency calls and routes them accordingly. Included in a job description for a police dispatcher will be communicating well with officers as well as members of the general public.
Inside a city, county, or state law enforcement agency, a police dispatcher is the first line of communication a caller has, and plays a key role in ensuring emergency personnel respond appropriately to a scene.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities of a Police Dispatcher
- Answers the phone and talks with callers in order to determine the nature of a particular emergency
- Decides on a plan of action and summons officers to react
- Coordinates the efforts of officers while in route to the scene
- Calms and reassures people who are waiting on emergency services
- Records information relating to a particular incident for possible use by investigators later
- Advises individuals on certain actions to take while waiting for help to arrive
- Reaches out to other agencies if additional help is needed outside a particular department
- Communicates with officers at the scene in order to ensure that a situation is fully resolved
- Tracks the location of vehicles that are responding to a particular incident
Required Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
- Is able to remain calm while under extreme pressure
- Is able to direct others and provide sound guidance
- Has a basic understanding of the law, criminal behavior and criminal procedures
- Understands basic police procedures and conforms to department rules and regulations
- Remains alert and attentive at all times
- Communicates well and has excellent listening skills
- Has the ability to multitask
Education and Experience
While many departments will hire police dispatchers who have only a high school diploma, others prefer them to have a two or four-year degree in criminal justice or emergency services. Before being hired, individuals will need to pass a criminal background check, drug screen and written exam. While certification is not required, it can nonetheless be helpful in obtaining a job. Certification is offered through a number of agencies, including the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials, the National Academy of Emergency Dispatch, and the national Emergency Number Association.
Police dispatchers work indoors in an office-like setting that is nonetheless very stressful. They may work very long shifts that may span a 24-hour period in many cases. These individuals are normally employed full time, and can be expected to work weekends and holidays. They may also be required to be on call during their days off, and come to work with very little prior notice.
The salary for a police dispatcher varies widely, and can be anywhere from $22,310 to $54,350. This amounts to an average hourly wage of between $10.72 and $26.13 per hour. The median annual wage is approximately $35,370, which is equivalent to $17.00 per hour. Those who are certified and have at least two years of experience as a dispatcher make higher wages than others.