Police dispatchers are members of law enforcement who answer calls for emergency services in a calm manner. The dispatcher must determine quickly the urgency of the request and dispatch officers to the scene. Close contact with dispatchers allows officers to request additional assistance and other emergency personnel.
A police dispatcher receives emergency and non-emergency calls to the police department and directs the appropriate number of police units to the scene. The police dispatcher receives calls from other police agencies and emergency services as well as the public. The calls come into the dispatch via telephone, computer system and radio.
A police dispatcher also monitors the location of all police officers on duty. The police department maintains logs of all incoming calls. The dispatcher maintains the log through manual or automated processes.
Police dispatchers need the ability to remain calm in emergency situations. The dispatcher must be able to think and act clearly during calls to the police station. The ability to multitask on the job is also an essential skill. Police dispatchers must possess skills using telephone, computer and radio equipment while communicating effectively with callers and police personnel.
A police dispatcher must have a high school diploma or equivalent and be at least 18 years old. Police departments may require dispatchers to undergo a background check and be free of any prior felony convictions. The dispatcher does not require an advanced degree. Experience working as a police dispatcher or familiarity with the communications equipment gives applicants a better chance at a position with a police department. The police department may also require a valid driver’s license.
Law enforcement may require police dispatchers to have certifications, which allow the individual to have access to federal, state and local law enforcement databases.
The average salary for a police dispatcher is $53,000 as of May 2010, according to Indeed.com.
2016 Salary Information for Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatchers
Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers earned a median annual salary of $38,870 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers earned a 25th percentile salary of $30,830, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $49,570, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 98,600 people were employed in the U.S. as police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers.