To be a Police Communications Operator (commonly referred to as a Police Dispatcher) with the Jefferson Township Police Department, the basic requirements you must have are to have taken the "Emergency Medical Dispatch" course, the "Public Safety Telecommunicator" course, and be up to date on your CPR (for the Professional Rescuer). As a beginner, you will receive many hours of training with one of our seasoned Police Communications Operators, until it has been determined you are able to go on your own.
Each of our four full time Police Communications Operators is a member of a squad consisting of a Sergeant, a Corporal, and 4 police officers. The dispatcher always works with the same squad. Squads work four, 12-hour days (either 7am-7pm or 7pm-7am) and are then off for four days. We also have several part time Police Communications Operators who cover vacations, sick time and other absences of our Full Timers.
Working as a Police Communications Operator can go from a quiet day to extremely hectic in the blink of an eye. Therefore, as a Police Communications Operator, it is important that you be able to multi-task, listen to, understand and respond to multiple radio communications going on simultaneously ("split ear"), answer 9-1-1 and the non-emergency lines, dispatch not only police, EMS and Fire personnel, but also make contact with outside vendors needed at the scene such as the tow truck, Medivac, MICU, JCP&L, Verizon, the Coroner, specialized units of the Morris County Sheriff's Dept., as well as specialized units of our own department such as the Traffic Bureau, and Township Departments such as DPW, Water and Sewer and Health Departments, along with other varied responsibilities.
When answering 9-1-1, it is important to remain calm even when the people on the other end are screaming because a loved one is ill or injured, or because they are involved in a domestic dispute with their spouse or other family member, or maybe their house or a neighbor's house is on fire, or because something has frightened them like a bear appearing on their deck.
There is also a computer component to Police Telecommunications, which is done sometimes in the midst of all of the craziness that can happen at once on the desk (i.e., missing persons must be entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) as soon as possible after the Police Communications Operator takes the initial information from the caller). You are also required to check criminal and motor vehicle warrants by computer, and by phone on occasion, as well as access local and out of state motor vehicle records while officers await the information because they have stopped a car.
So, next time you hear someone call Police Communications Operators "glorified telephone operators," remember the above description of what they do on any given day and at any given hour, and how important a link they are between you and the assistance you require. Could you do their job? If you think you can and would like to apply to be a part time Police Communications Operator with the Jefferson Township Police Department, click HERE for our Employment Application.