Found at: 0x1bi.net:70/textfiles/file?law/dispatch.law

November 1990
                         POINT OF VIEW                                       
                      DISPATCHING UNITS:
              IMPROVEMENTS FOR THE "FIRST LINE"             


                       Bob Blankenship
           Redding, California, Police Department

      Uniformed patrol officers are generally looked upon as the
most essential element of any police organization.  Police
management views these officers as its first and foremost
contact with the public.  Investigators and detectives are also

     Generally, dispatchers and other individuals in
communications and recordkeeping posts are often not as highly
valued as patrol officers or investigators.  Not only is this
view incorrect, but it also creates serious problems in police
mprovements in technology and officer training will be severely
undermined if dispatching units, in many cases the department's
first contact with the public, are not re-evaluated and
mprovements implemented.


     In most departments, the dispatching unit is part of the
Records and Communications Division--the nerve center of the
agency.  Here, calls for service are relayed to officers for
life-line to assistance and information.

     Obviously, departments would be better served if
motivated members of the law enforcement team.  However, such a
and stressful duties with little training and even less
eventually, decreases the effectiveness of the department in

     In addition to stressful working conditions, relatively low
to work in small, cramped rooms with no windows and to answer
adequate staff to ensure either lunch or rest breaks.  These
conditions, along with a general lack of respect from officers
and investigators, serve to discourage and frustrate


     Dispatchers often have the first official contact with the
the field at all times.  They provide information to officers
for record checks, phone calls, and car stops.  Because of the
mportance of these functions, the department should value
that the personnel in these positions are properly selected,

     Background investigations should be conducted for every
applicant who an agency considers hiring.  Psychological testing
and evaluation should be mandatory for individuals applying for
candidates who may not be suited to work in a highly stressful

     Departments should develop a training manual to be given to
each new dispatcher.  The manual should be categorized into
officers' call numbers.  In succeeding weeks, more detailed
nformation should be presented, such as instructing dispatchers
on the proper way to handle specific situations and other more
complex topics.  Also, dispatchers should be assigned to an
experienced training officer, one who has been instructed in

     Dispatchers should attend a mandatory basic dispatcher
course for a minimum of 40 hours.  Here, they should be schooled
n the criminal and civil code sections dispatchers encounter
frequently.  It is important that dispatchers understand the
elements of these various code sections.  This training should
also include hands-on, practical exercises in emergency phone
Supervisory dispatchers should receive further supervisory
training, just as other police managers do.

     Agencies should ensure that newly assigned dispatchers are
familiar with departmental rules, regulations, general orders,
and chain of command.  Dispatchers should also be familiar with
those employees with whom they will be working, either directly
or indirectly.


     Dispatching units are essential to the mission of all
turnover and burnout rates for personnel assigned to these
all law enforcement positions becomes smaller, it will be
ncreasingly important for agencies to hire and train qualified
ntended to offer viable solutions to a problem which, left
unchecked, may result in serious consequences for many