How to Become a Police Dispatcher
A police dispatcher is a lucrative and rewarding career within the fields of emergency response and law enforcement. A police dispatcher's primary job is to answer incoming 9-1-1 calls, give assistance, provide reassurance or comfort to the individuals calling, and coordinate emergency services to the scene.
A police dispatcher career is a great way to serve your community. You must have some pre-qualifications and skills, and you must undergo specific training before being hired as a police dispatcher. Read on to see what a police dispatcher does and how you can become one.
What Does a Police Dispatcher Do?
A police dispatcher's main job is to answer emergency calls and coordinate police, fire, or ambulance assistance to the area of distress or emergency. When someone places a call to 9-1-1, a police dispatcher obtains biographical and geographical information as well as the nature of the emergency. The dispatcher then notifies emergency services of the crisis and its location.
A police dispatcher has other duties, as well. Including:
Verbally directing a caller through first aid, CPR, and emergency breathing measures.
Designating case numbers
Talking to callers while encouraging and maintaining calm until emergency responders take over at the scene
Listening to the police radio and dispatching to on-duty police
Dealing with non-emergency calls from the public and giving information to callers, connecting callers with their required department or area
Initiating appropriate police response to incoming calls
Operating various computerized communication consoles and associated equipment to receive, evaluate and communicate information from the public to police personnel in a respectful, detailed, and timely manner
Answering calls from internal police lines and react accordingly, and respond to requests from police personnel
Maintaining radio contact with an assorted number of police officers.
Sorting and prioritizing numerous calls for emergency services
How to Become a Police Dispatcher in Canada
In Canada, you must meet the following minimum requirements before you become a police dispatcher:
Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada.
Be at least 18 years of age.
Be mentally able to perform the duties of the position, having regard for the safety of members of the public.
Be of good moral character and habits— an individual that other people would look upon as being trustworthy and having integrity.
Be able to pass a security clearance as well as background investigation, which includes education, employment, personal history, and credit and reference checks.
Not have been convicted of a criminal offence for which a pardon has not been granted.
As a police dispatcher, you need to possess a blend of traits and competencies and undergo proper training to be effective in the role. If you have all of the above qualities, you may proceed with checking off the next steps toward your career goal, which include having:
Completed high school
Police dispatchers must possess a high school diploma or GED. Some candidates may wish to attend post-secondary education, but it is not required for the job.
Gained relevant experience
A police dispatcher must be at least 18 years old. Still, most dispatch centres prefer employees with relevant work experience, such as administrative work, call centre work, or experience working with various populations.
If you are without work experience, you might want to get some experience before applying. An ideal stepping stone would be a job where you communicate with customers and gain computer-related skill knowledge. If you are serious about becoming a police dispatcher as a career, your experience working in a customer service or customer experience job will help you acquire some of the skills needed to be an effective police dispatcher.
Necessary Behaviours for a Police Dispatcher
There are some specific characteristics that you should possess if you wish to be successful as a police dispatcher.
These will help you secure the job while also helping you once you are in the post.
These behaviours include:
The ability to remain calm under pressure
The ability to manage your emotional reactions
The ability to be compassionate and empathetic
If you have been unable to hone these skills with your prior work experience, you can find courses to help you, for instance, a course with simulated incoming emergency calls. Doing so looks great on your resume.
The Background Check
As we mentioned above, one of the prerequisites for a police dispatcher job is the ability to pass a background check. All emergency response and law enforcement candidates need to pass the same background check when they begin the application process.
As a police dispatcher candidate, your requirement to pass the check is due to your access to information and vulnerable people. Your background check will include the following components:
Some applicants may need to provide immediate family information. This could include information that allows a review of your family's criminal history. They could review even your child support history, if applicable.
In a background check, the person performing the check will review your criminal history to look for arrests and convictions and even placement on the terrorist watch list. Typically, a felony conviction will deem you ineligible for any law enforcement or emergency services role. The hiring manager will determine decisions on minor charges.
As a police dispatcher, certification to perform life-saving measures is required, and you may even be called upon to guide callers through them.
Many police dispatcher jobs require the following certifications, usually within about three months from your hire date:
Emergency Medical Dispatcher accreditation
Emergency Fire Dispatcher certification
You may even want to consider taking some additional certifications on your own or looking into agencies such as:
The Ontario NENA: Works to set requirements and increase the effectiveness of emergency dispatch in the state of Ontario;
The National Emergency Number Association: Works to set standards in the 9-1-1 emergency number field nationwide;
The International Academies of Emergency Dispatch: Works to develop international requirements related to emergency calls.
Before you begin your journey to being hired as a police dispatcher, review your area's requirements to see if you can complete them before being hired.
Police dispatchers receive considerable training once hired, and some call centres have designated trainers to help new hires feel confident in fielding calls once at the post. Your training will include using the equipment, learning policies and regulations, and practicing emergency scenarios.
Once you are trained, you should be skilled in successfully responding to any call that comes.
Police Dispatching Jobs
While you may be referred to as a police dispatcher in your role, there are other job titles that you may find when you are searching for a police dispatcher position, such as 9-1-1 operator, 9-1-1 dispatcher, or 9-1-1 telecommunicator.
Police dispatching jobs at operating centres are worked 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. You will more than likely be required to work eight to twelve hours shifts on a rotating schedule.
Police Test Tutor
Once you are ready to become a police dispatcher, turn to Police Test Tutor for help!
With extensive industry knowledge and tutoring for various law enforcement and emergency services jobs, you will be investing in yourself.
Police Test Tutor offers packages for police dispatching jobs, like the CritiCall Dispatch package, which offers simulated 9-1-1 calls to help you along the path of landing your career as a police dispatcher.