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Departments : The Winning Edge

10 Things Officers Want to Tell Dispatchers

The working relationship between officers in the field and communicators suffers from a lack of communication.

November 07, 2012  |  by - Also by this author

Photo: Yuda Chen
Photo: Yuda Chen

Within the law enforcement profession there is a core constituency of guys and gals who take pride in trusting their gut instincts and playing hunches. But even within these ranks, there runs an appreciation for concrete information, a desire to remove as many unknowables and abstractions as possible. These officers want to get where they need to be, with as much knowledge as possible about what awaits and what resources they will need.

Unfortunately, much of the time officers are given very little information upon receiving a call. Unless it is a "return to" situation, they have little or no idea of what actually awaits them. And most of the time, they have no means of finding out on their own. That is where dispatchers come into play.

Dispatchers send officers into harm's way. This may not be their intent, but it's their job. And it is a heady responsibility by any standard. It's a job that that commands respect, both by those who are obligated to perform it and perform it well and the officers who depend on that performance.

Previously, POLICE Magazine shared some things that dispatchers always wanted officers to know. This time, the shoe is on the other foot, and we allow field units to give dispatchers some advice. In order to make this article easier to read, we are going to boil down all of the information that we gathered on this subject into 10 points delivered in the voice of one typical officer.

1. Tell Me What to Look For

When you assign me a "just occurred" call, I know that I may be entering something of a mystery. But that doesn't mean it has to be "Twilight Zone" territory. Please get me some type of description of both cars and people.

I know the informant isn't always familiar with the various makes and models of cars, the differences between domestics and imports, and what constitutes a long bed or a short bed. None of this precludes the possibility of his recognizing something about the vehicle that might make it stand apart in the crowd, that might save me from needlessly fixating on the wrong vehicle. How often does the description come out "a van"—and then we find there's a hundred vans in the immediate vicinity? Ask the informant if he noticed something, anything, distinctive about the ride. Two-door? Four-door? Tinted windows? Decals? Some smart-alecky license plate frame? Was there any body damage? Did it appear to be an older model car or a newer one? The same goes for the suspect himself. Tall? Short? Bald? Long hair? Every piece of information that you relay to me is another piece of the puzzle played.

2. I Need Useable Intel

Descriptions are obviously great, but I also need good intel. Don't just tell me a suspect is on the side of the house, tell me which side. The front and back I can deal with most of the time. But the "right?" The "left?" Is that the "right" as when you're inside the house and looking out (in which case it's to my left when I arrive)?

If the call is a suspicious vehicle, then what makes it suspicious? Is it visibly occupied? Are the windows blacked out?

Ask clarifying questions. Don't assume things. Pass along all pertinent information. If the informant is deaf, please let me know so I won't necessarily TASER her when she runs out excitedly and fails to comply with my verbal commands.

Three Pittsburgh police officers were killed in 2009 when a dispatcher failed to relay information advising that there were firearms inside a house. Those guns were then used to kill the officers as they arrived at the location. Please spare me that fate. The presence of guns at the scene is a very important detail; bring them to my attention.

By the same token, don't needlessly escalate things by inferring things are worse than they are. Upon hearing that a store employee "got shafted," a dispatcher put out the call as an armed robbery, which led to a nine-minute pursuit and crash that seriously injured a Thurmont, Md., police officer. It turned out that the crime had only been a petty theft.

3. Use Common Sense

Please try to play devil's advocate on my behalf. Often, this isn't as difficult as it may sound, as it can come down to simply exercising common sense. For instance, if you send me on a suicide by hanging call, do you think I can probably use an assisting unit to help me cut the guy down in hopes of saving him? Consider the resources I might need, not just in terms of the number of units I need rolling, but whether or not a field supervisor, EMS, Fire, or some combination thereof needs to respond.

4. Put 2 and 2 Together

If you receive a call from an informant advising of two prowlers entering the backyard of a residence, followed by the sound of breaking glass and all you put out is a "suspicious person" call with none of that additional information do you think I might be frustrated upon my arrival to find a window-smash burglary, two suspects running, and no backup unit in sight?

On crime or possible crime calls such as domestics, always ask if there are weapons involved. If the person lies to you, shame on them. If they don't answer one way or the other because you failed to ask, shame on you.

The night that Arlington, Texas, police officer Jillian Michelle Smith was killed in 2010, a dispatcher failed to let officers know that Smith hadn't communicated with her in 15-minutes, as well as withheld information of a call advising that there'd been shots fired at the location and an officer was down. She sent the responding officers into an extremely dangerous situation that could have resulted in their being killed, as well.

5. I Have My Hands Full

Yes, I know that I have the means for running serialized property myself, and I apologize in advance if my lack of opportunity to do so places momentary constraints on you. But often it isn't laziness dictating the request but officer safety. I might have two digits worth of gang members detained and only so many handcuffs to go around and so much room in my backseat in which to detain them. My request is often made in prudence to their presence or the presence of others who might seek to exploit my attentions being committed elsewhere. Hopefully, you are in a much more comfortable position across the board to do this on my behalf.

6. Pay Attention to Your Work

The little outfits that you sew to put on those little bears and piggies are undeniably cute, but they are not part of your job description. Yes, you will have your down time. Appreciate it as such. But don't resent its disruption or my asking you to do something pertinent to our respective responsibilities. If we work together, you can return to the basket weaving with a clear conscience later. And I might even be able to get home to my family.

7. Prioritize Your Calls

Remember that your phone line has a "hold" button. This affords you the means to place less important calls on the backburner while you attend to more pressing concerns. Of course, it’s nice when you can remember to get back to calls that you have put on hold as well.

8. Be Consistent in Your Humor

If you don't like particular types of jokes, don't barter in them. Nothing is more aggravating than having the game rules switched mid-play and it can sour our working relationship thereafter.

9. We Hear What's Said About Us

Unless you are the one actually dispatching and have the opportunity to key and unkey the mic at will, we can hear you in the background. And since there are two sides to every story, you can bet that the Type A personalities among us will be sure to communicate our side at a more convenient time, should we feel it necessary. If push comes to shove, as in a hostile work environment allegation, a review of recorded radio transmissions may well come into play.

10. Tell Me If I Offend You

Maybe I have rubbed you wrong. It might be my personality, my tone of voice, or my occasionally curt nature. If I have done something to offend you, please bring it to my attention first. If your position has merit, I will try to adjust my conduct toward you. Should I fail to do so, I can hardly blame your taking the matter up elsewhere. But please remember, it may simply be a matter of responding in kind, on my part.


3 Things You Want Dispatchers To Know

10 Things Dispatchers Want You to Know

How to Thank Your Dispatchers

Comments (58)

Displaying 1 - 58 of 58

Steve Evans @ 11/29/2012 12:42 PM

Thirty two of my fifty years in law enforcement were at the city and county level. I started with our own county dispatch unit at the beginning of those years and ended with our own city dispatch unit for non-emergency city services traffic, plus a county-wide central dispatch (CAD) unit for our PD. I eventually wound up being a trainer for both police officers and dispatchers at the city, county and state levels (for about fifteen years). The best thing I ever did was to require them work together during their training programs. A week in dispatch for the new officers and a week as a ride-a-long for the dispatchers. Both learned to appreciate each other's roles and to assist each other in making their jobs easier and safer. There is no substitute for having them walk in each others' shoes.

Bill @ 11/29/2012 1:12 PM

1. We like information. We aren't asking for every detail, but if you have more than "Police Matter" to provide to us, we'd appreciate it. For example, when your caller says "Four people are dead, more will die tonite". Let us know that so we aren't walking into a triple homicide/suicide unprepared and without back-up.
2. If you don't like your job, quit. We don't need your attitude on the radio with us when we ask you to check something while we are standing with a suspect. Keep it professional. If checking warrants is a burden, McDonald's is always hiring.
3. If an Officer is rude or short with you, don't return the favor on the radio. (this goes both ways)
4. Be mindful of the fact that at anytime, an Officer could start screaming for help. Long winded dissertations about a barking dog are not necessary and present an officer safety issue.

Now, these are just incidents that I've dealt with personally, but 95% of the time, our dispatchers are on top of things and I have no complaints. But the 5% (listed above) always stick out as problems that could be and should have been avoided.

Bonnie @ 11/30/2012 6:55 AM

When call taking you are only as good as the information YOU CAN GET.. What always happens is you are on the phone attempting to get the information and the complainant, victim, witness etc. only tells you "just get someone out here!" They never have a good description, no direction of travel, unknown weapons etc. When the officer gets on the scene..... they have an epiphany and can remember every little detail. Makes the call taker feel terrible and the officer believe no one tried to get the details.

Lora @ 11/30/2012 8:00 PM

I realize this article is meant to be beneficial but this is written in a very demeaning manner towards dispatchers. As a 17 year veteran of the Illinois State Police, who also holds a college degree, I take offense at this writing. I am sure that between myself and my fellow police dispatchers of all kinds across the USA that we, too, could find many things that officers do to us that make our jobs difficult to do effectively and efficiently.

Dean Scoville @ 11/30/2012 8:40 PM

Lora, I wrote both the "What Dispatchers..." and "What Officers..." stories. In both instances I tried to convey as accurately as possible the feelings as they were communicated to me, often in the parlance in which they were stated. And let's face it - men and women tend to use different words to share their intutions and experiences. In all instances, the people that spoke with me did so with the understanding that I would share their thoughts and concerns in a manner that was consistent with their intentions. The covenant I keep with them and any inherent truth is more important to me than any desire I might otherwise have to sanitize things or couch sentiments lest I the hurt sensibilities of someone who apparently thinks a college degree trumps all. Indeed, I "take offense" at your implicit expectation of some politically correct alternative.

Ron @ 12/1/2012 7:17 AM

I'll have to agree with Lora. Parts of this artical was written using a condensending tone. I found #6 particularly offensive. I was a reserve officer for 22 years and then worked dispatch for several after. I never made arts and crafts and stayed quite busy doing data entry of items the officers were above doing while they covered the desk at a small agency. It's interesting to see the roles reversed, something that I imagine you wouldn't see at a large department. Dean, you appear to take offense with Lora, maybe it's your wrting style. She was trying to qualify herself and not brag. This would be similar to you stating your fifty years of service. This is an example of the comunications break down you mentioned. I also pity the dispatchers who handle police and fire. I also understand the frustration of officers who see the FEW dispatchers who don't keep their minds at dispatching first. I've also seen the parked patrol cars with the video game cords extending between them, so does the public (a perfect time for an ambush?). Lets work together. Oh yeah I also have a degree...

Ron @ 12/1/2012 7:38 AM

My apologies, Steve mentioned his years of service (and thank you for all of them).

Lora @ 12/1/2012 3:03 PM

I just got home from the funeral of an ISP trooper of which I was the one working the radio when the incident happened earlier this week. The hardest thing I ever had to do was say Officer Down on the air and sit in my chair visualizing the horrific scene and talk to the witness on the phone. I work alone too, there are no other people on my shift to help me. Last night as I was searching the Internet for things such as dispatchers coping with in the line of duty deaths.... I get nothing of the sort except for this article about me doing arts and crafts at my desk. Yeah. I'm a little offended. I also worked dispatch phones and radio ALONE during the Megabus accident that also received nationwide attention.

Lora @ 12/1/2012 3:04 PM

Just to clarify , I don't have the time to do arts and crafts.

Dean Scoville @ 12/1/2012 4:08 PM

Well apparently there are those who do make arts and crafts on the job, Lora. If the shoe fits, then sweat it. If it doesn't, then don't personalize it and make it all about you.

Lora @ 12/1/2012 4:40 PM

Wow. The underlying point was that I was looking for some mental guidance and this came article is what I got instead. Obviously bad timing on my part to read your work at this time. It's not all about me....Thanks. So sorry if YOU were offended by MY comments. Gee whiz.

Greg @ 12/5/2012 6:36 AM

Good article, too bad some of the content is condescending. Was going to share it with my Telecommunicators but don't think I will bother. We don't have anyone here sewing cute things, it's busy.

Ray @ 12/5/2012 10:11 AM

As a 22 year veteran communication officer, I find this article very offensive towards those men and women who are here 24/7/365. Remember officers the first word in officer safety is officer. We can't protect you from everything and we can't always get "everything" you need from a hysterical caller trying to give us information on what they perceive they are seeing. As a communication officer we are dealing with multiple calls and officers at one time, we can't give individualized attention to one officer who thinks his information is more important only because he is working that call. I can tell you there is not one communication officer who sits behind their console thinking how they can make that officer on the street miserable. They are dedicated professionals who are under appreciated for the work they do.

Dean Scoville @ 12/5/2012 10:41 AM

Now this is how you do it, Lora: Rather than go off half-cocked and post a tirade which subsequently obliges him to some revisionist history as to what he took exception to in the first place, Greg simply laid out his case. In doing so, he tossed out a bit of flattery ("Good article..."), articulated out his grievances ("...too bad some of the content is condenscending (sic)"), then let me know how the tone of the piece will cost us prospective readership ("Was going to share it with my Telecommunicators but don't think I will bother.") He even closed with a relatively innocuous smart-ass comment ("We don't have anyone here sewing cute things, it's busy.") (Some might even characterize it as "condescending"; I accept it as responding in kind. Kudos to Greg). In this manner he has successfully communicated his desire that I change the tact with which I write some of my articles. I won't, but I appreciate his tact. As far as Ray is concerned, has it occurred to him that perhaps I found having to relay this information offensive? That *NONE* of the concerns articulated should have to have been said in the first place? That the fact that there were speaks to legitimate officer safety concerns? I note that herein and elsewhere - on my Facebook page - people take particular exception to number six. Well, wtf - the others are ok? Again, NONE of this should be a matter of concern. I would tender an apology if I felt the need for one. But I don't.

Melody @ 2/11/2013 10:48 PM

I agree with some of the requests however as I am old school, I would LOVE to handle any issues face to face but new departmental policies are big on "chain of command" and therefore it says I have to contact a supervisor if there is any issue with an Officer... therefore adding to most of the problems listed above. I do think that some of it is condenscending but as mutli-taskers (which is usually the big difference between road and dispatch, most officers walk out of dispatching shaking their heads mumbling how they could never do our jobs) we can handle the radio, phones, crochetting and pick right back up on a conversation we were in the middle of when duty called....

Melody @ 2/11/2013 11:10 PM

ps... i do ask all those questions you would like us to ask, and then some, to the point i feel like i'm drilling a homicide suspect but I will definitely find out everything there is to know and it infuriates me when some of the people i work with don't get all the info. I "warn" my co workers that when i ask them something about the call, and their reply is "they didn't say" that is not acceptable to me and i politely ask them to call the caller back and ask for all the info. we as dispatcher know what to do, how to do it and what to ask. I take pride in my job and I work with a great department who expects me to do my job to the best of my abilities!

Michelle @ 3/6/2013 8:18 AM

I agree that a lack of communication between field officers and dispatch can be huge. Fortunately, that situation has been rectified in the last 5-7 years in my department. We still have officers that just plain don't like dispatchers and vice versa...we're all human and that's just the way it is. We have a quality assurance program in place, and compliance is 95%. Dispatcher A gets/dispatches the same info as Dispatcher B and so on. Consistency is key, open communication is also key. Anonymous bitching and backbiting is useless and I like to say (to officers AND dispatchers), "sack up and make a formal complaint or shut your food hole." I don't let issues fester, I take care of them (on either side of the radio). I was looking for ideas for National Public Safety Telecommunicators' Week when I came across this article, I too was going to share it until I started reading it. No thanks, I'd rather not expose them to the vitriol that this article conveys. It's a shame, this could have been a good training tool.

Gina @ 11/30/2013 5:23 PM

I've been a police communications officer for over 18 years. Nothing frustrates me more than a lazy dispatcher. Trust me , if an officer can trust you and know that you will make sure you do your very best to keep them safe then they do respect you ... Yes , we are busy but the officer is actually in ' harms way ' there is a big life threatening difference ... My officers respect me because they know I am a professional and my job is my career I love it and it shows I've never had a problem with a police officer

Marie @ 5/8/2014 12:42 AM

I don't know what place you work for that grants dispatchers down time for arts and crafts. I was considering sharing this with my own crew in an attempt for dispatchers and officers to have better communication, but this article is definitely not appropriate. It's condescending. You sound bitter, and no dispatcher would take your crap, and they can get their job done without your lack of professionalism. So maybe that's why you sound the way you do.

K Smith @ 5/16/2014 1:50 AM

As dispatchers we DO ask for descriptions. We can only give to you what the caller gives to us, and when they are panicked, pissed off, scared, or nervous, they don't give information willingly, or at all usually. Most of the time it is, "just send me the effin cops/ffs/medics and I'll tell them when they get here!"

K Smith @ 5/16/2014 1:52 AM

And most of the time, how many units we send is policy and at the discretion of the supervisor. Not my call.

Skip @ 5/16/2014 8:13 AM

I think the points are all well made. Some have a tone I'm not a fan of but it is stated as from the voice of a typical officer. And if I can deal with the general public who calls and treats me like crap on the phone I can let the tone slide off of me as well.

My biggest issue is the following line. "Unfortunately, much of the time officers are given very little information upon receiving a call."

If you had said "Unfortunately there are SOME times..." I would think it was a great article. However by saying this occurs "much of the time", you're making it sound like all of these issues occur all the time and that dispatchers are keeping info from PD. I am guessing these issues may occur at most dispatch centers but are the exception, not the norm.

By stating at the start of the article that these things occur much of the time you lose any credibility for the rest of the article, which is too bad because there are some good points for people on both sides of the radio.

B. Culpepper @ 5/16/2014 10:03 PM

People! Please! The intent was to help us all understand both sides. There are both large and small departments all over the US. I have seen dispatchers doing arts and crafts and some watching TV. This does not mean everybody does it. It does not apply to you then let it ride. There are times that nothing is happening and there are times when it's non stop, we all know that. I worked with officers that had never had to dispatch and they always complained about dispatchers. I would tell them quickly that if they had never done it, they did not fully understand what was going on. The jobs are tough on both sides of the microphone.... try to be understanding of one another. The sad fact is.... we are not ALL good at what we try to do..... but yet we try. Y'all be safe out there... I'm retired now....

Bella @ 5/16/2014 11:05 PM

I agree with some of it, and as a dispatcher not all of it, I see both sides of the story, and I know when I am on the street what I will want as well, I think that cross training would be ideal, that all new officer and old officers who never spent a day in dispatch should, especially busy agency. We get as much info as we can, some agencies aren't busy so we craft. I work for 6 total and 3 are in the ghetto so I don't have time to have water let alone anything else, but at the other 3 I can if there is down time because I have many partners. I doubt anyside will ever understand eachother but lets try.

Almost to Retirement @ 6/20/2014 7:26 PM

Lora, Sorry for your loss. You can reach out and get support through COPS "Concerns of Police Survivors". I am a Sergeant with 26 years on the job, and I get the intent. Cops are cops, and trust me, I speak my mind which might offend some. I read the article looking for constructive material that I could share. What I found was not the case. I also will not be sharing this article as all it will do is piss off my good dispatchers. Too condescending. Sorry Dean.

Name Withheld @ 6/25/2014 6:41 AM

The "what dispatchers want officers to know"article was written with a sense of humor but was not condescending and nasty. This article starts out assuming MOST dispatchers are withholding information and speeds downhill from there. I planned to use the other article for training and this one to use as the flip side of the coin. Won't be using either now. I don't want my trainees following the link to this article from the first and and adopting the same nasty attitude. This article did more to belittle dispatchers and the important role they play than anything I've seen in a long time. I'm not impressed.

David @ 6/25/2014 10:15 AM

This article and the preceding one lose all credibility they may have held due to the smug, condescending attitude of the writer both in the original post and the comments. Your comments have taken an article that could have been productive and useful and made it absolute garbage.

Leah @ 6/25/2014 7:14 PM

I thought the previous article was good as were the majority, if not all, the points in this article. However, the delivery of this article is incredibly condescending. Yes, these issues do occur on occasion and should be addressed when they do. However, to do so in this manner only worsens the problem and breaks down the lines of communication even more. We are a team and we do our best work when both sides have a mutual respect for each other. Full cooperation and team work will only be achieved when both sides lose the attitude that they are more important than the other.

That Dispatcher. @ 6/26/2014 1:36 AM

Emergency Telecommunications Officer. FIRE/EMS/LAW and sometimes even call taking all rolled into one. Good article, but I really enjoyed the article titled "10 Things Dispatchers Want You to Know" haha. People who say it's "condescending" should have thick enough skin by now from working in the environment we call home to ignore it. Of course at my agency we don't basket weave, sew or sleep (sent home without pay / if not immediate termination). Cheers.

Dispatch/Police @ 6/26/2014 7:56 AM

Having been a police officer for five years, and a dispatcher for 11 years, I feel qualified enough to comment on this. I find this list/article extremely condescending and arrogant. It completely feeds into the disconnect between officers and dispatchers, whereas officers think and act like they are "better" than dispatchers. Keep in mind that when you're dealing with one scene, whether it be a traffic stop, a burglary, or a battery, we are still dealing with everyone else's scenes in addition to yours. Take notice that when you're in a foot pursuit and need dispatch's absolute focus, there's another impatient officer going to a different radio channel just to run a VIN so he doesn't have to spend any more time on his call. Dispatchers don't tell officers how to conduct searches, dust for prints, or write probable cause affidavits, but officers certainly try to tell dispatchers how to do their job.

BizzyM @ 10/6/2014 1:24 PM

Officers, when dispatch tries to raise you and give you a call reapeatedly, the response "Standby, I'm on the phone", is entirely laughable. Why? Because we're probably on the phone too, and we don't get to tell you to hold on.

Also, officer, when you decide that you need something from dispatch, realize one constant fact: you're dealing with one call, we're dealing with multiple. We're dealing with up to a dozen officers just like you and they all want to be attended to immediately. So if you want EMS, ask. If you want a backup unit, ask. If you want your field supervisor, call him, I'm sure you know his ID.

btr-mi @ 7/9/2015 4:42 PM

Easy does it everyone, sheesh. Getting awful worked up over a clever little article

James M @ 7/9/2015 6:13 PM

It is very apparent by this article that the person writing knows nothing about dispatching.

Radio @ 7/10/2015 5:22 AM

This is an article written in the fashion for information. I believe it does a good job stating a few key points to consider if you are a dispatcher. Training first hand from your agency should have already given you this and more as it all falls under officer safety and the basics of dispatching. There are a lot of small agencies where dispatch can only be manned by one body at a time, and in such it could create an even more heightened safety risk. I don't feel this article is to condescending. I read it for exactly what it is and shared. I shared because it could be "that" article that helps a seasoned dispatcher remember that we are all in this together-
It is very easy in our line of work to become complacent. After 13 911 open lines, how would you handle the 14?
We all play a role- We are lifesavers... No one is higher than the other- WE ARE FAMILY.

CopsRule @ 7/10/2015 5:42 AM

A dispatcher who is in this line of work for officer safety gives out this info, one in it for a paycheck does not. Watch out for each other, you never know which one is on the other end of the radio. I know, I was a dispatcher for 7 yrs

CCO110 @ 7/10/2015 5:43 AM

I think communication between both Police and Dispatchers is essential... maybe both need to take a walk in each other's shoes and understand that at the end of the day, the important thing is Dispatch is the backbone of the department and our job is to get our Officers home safe every shift, while getting help to the public...that's a lot of stress on both ends.. It's stressful for the Officers on the road dealing with what they have to, and it's also frustrating for the Dispatcher that is not mobile and stuck behind the desk wanting to jump in their vehicle and assist lol Either way, the mission has to be carried out and we want to be sure everyone comes home a Dispatcher, if something happens, I also have to live with the consequences..maybe a ride-a-long for the Dispatcher and a day/night at the desk for the Officer :)

Jennifer @ 7/10/2015 7:37 AM

I dispatched for 10 years (police and fire), UC for 8+, and armed security after that for 6 years. If you have to ask your dispatchers to do points 1-7, they suck. Get new ones and have them trained by an excellent dispatcher. I speak from experience. I trained excellent dispatchers. I made some cry. They thanked me years later for being so hard on them BECAUSE they ended up being one of the best that the officers depended on and trusted. I made some quit. Good riddance. They were a liability and could cost an officer his or her life. Points 8-10 are simply communication issues. We all get upset. We all need to vent. Deal with it like adults and communicate. Just like almost any job in the world, there are people that just get it! And there are those that never will. Trainers, educators, etc, learn that and don't be afraid to fire someone if they aren't cutting it. Someone's life DOES depend on it.

Scott Lemon @ 7/10/2015 11:15 AM

Dispatchers: I hate to inform you, but this was an exact replica of just about every complaint I have had over 11 years; only it was put WAY nicer with far more attempts at making you see it from our angle than I have exemplified in the past. The problem I see here is you all don't like to be told anything! The fact is we are telling you how to work better with us, and all you can do is complain about what we say and how we say it while arguing for a better working relationship. When was the last time any of you faced your own death at work? We face it daily. You know those people you want to reach through the phone and grab a hold of? We have to deal with those people face to face, WHILE dealing with you and your attitude and whining about how difficult your job is! We aren't whining about our job but the way you do yours, and further place our lives in jeopardy, unnecessarily. I know dispatching isn't easy. Neither is being a prison guard. That's why we (cops) don't do those jobs! If it's that bad for you, maybe you shouldn't, either!

Kevin @ 7/10/2015 1:36 PM

Well scott, as a dispatcher with 10 years experience I can tell you I've had my life on the line quite often in the U.S. Marines. 2000-2006, afghan and Iraq, and I wasn't serving warrants or pulling over cars where there's a chance

Susan @ 7/10/2015 5:03 PM

As a dispatcher 34 years and now retired I'm insulted by this article.At my agency we worked very hard to get as much provided to officers responding to every type of call. Our #1 job was to get those officers home safely every night.On a priority 1 call we would get basic info,send it up and dispatch it and tell the officer "MORE TO FOLLOW" that meant we were still gathering info so don't ask 83 questions.We had a strict protocol of what to ask on each type of call and a sophisticated computer system for relaying info.What the dispatchers had on their screen,the officers had on the MDT in their vehicles.Our training program is close to a year long.We have a very good working relationship with the officers and we run everything we can for them, most of the time before they even ask for it.We pride ourselves on having the info before the officer asks for it.We have 2 dedicated positions on every shift as backup to make calls,run property,confirm warrants etc.Put yourself in their shoes.

dlclair @ 7/10/2015 5:06 PM

In answer to situations where a person needs assistance: Counselling, talking through a work-day-challenge or the unfortunate 'line-of-duty-death' [of an officer at a call that has gone bad or a dispatcher driving into work or home], your department may have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to be referred to or to refer yourself for confidentiality if you choose not to go through your supervisor for the referral), or peer-support programs. This may not be confidential enough for some small agencies, as the 'peer' may be the challenge for which you need to speak. Alternatively, many departments are involved with International Critical Incident Stress Management, INC (ICISF) and they run trainings and offer assistance. By calling the international phone contact number, a person can be referred to links to your state or local area's resources. Grief counselling is available and can assist in avoiding some of the PTSD symptoms that could become long-term.

Jade @ 7/10/2015 5:17 PM

Having read both "10 Things Dispatchers..." and "10 Things Officers...", I think the phrasing in this one is unnecessarily inflammatory. Too bad, because they are good points.

deb @ 7/10/2015 5:42 PM

I listen to this whining ass shit, and trained as a police officer you should go into every situation expecting the worse that could possibly happen, the dispatcher is only responsible for whatever she or he can get out of the caller. Go into every situation expecting the worse! Don't blame it on the dispatch. I have a daughter in dispatch and she is a jailer half of the time. Her boy friend is a city cop who she dispatches for. She can only give him (and others) information that she is given and would never put someone in harms way. She is also waiting to get into a job as a police officer. My other son is also going to college for a position as a officer. So I can look at both sides of this debate. Just go into every situation as potentially the worse it could be! And for the last comment about maybe I offended you...tell me if I have. You know who are. You shouldn't have to told that because most people who offend some one know that are doing it when they are doing it.

746x @ 7/10/2015 6:43 PM

This is one of the worse articles I've ever read. You make dispatchers sound horrible. All it does is put us down and make us sound like we just want to knit and eat bonbons. I suggest these officers come to a busy department to see how real dispatchers work. Thanks for putting us all down.

Dawson @ 7/10/2015 8:40 PM

Although I like how this reads, you can very well switch the words 'Dispatcher' and 'Officers'. Officers are just as guilty of the dysfunctional behavior in the other side of the radio. We should be a team, aiming for the same goal.. Not two separate entities with different missions...

CS @ 9/30/2015 4:13 PM

This article is written in such a sarcastic and aggressive manner I could not believe it. # 6 and 7 especially damn. That's uncalled for.

JNT @ 10/3/2015 4:24 PM

I'm neither a police officer nor a dispatcher, although I enjoy radio scanners. I am in awe of dispatchers when I listen to them on my scanner. I was searching the internet to find out more about them and stumbled across this article. I was shocked at how sarcastic and condescending it was and became quite angry. "Try McDonald's?" Wow. So it's either a Dispatcher job or "would you like fries with that." No wonder so many have such a terrible attitude toward law enforcement.

Then I got to the comment section and was relieved to hear that I wasn't the only one who thought it was completely out of place. I came away with a very strong sense that police officers cannot stand dispatchers, to have such viewpoints. (And by the way, I first read the "10 Things Dispatchers would like to tell officers" article first).

Sf @ 10/25/2015 10:58 PM

Its true,as a dispatcher i have seen many !!! distracted dispatchers knitting crafting surfing the net and reading books! They need a wake up call.

DS @ 11/3/2015 4:29 AM

This article looks to be 3 years old. With the environment of anti-police as 2015 draws to a close, it seems like officers and dispatchers are more on the same "team." That being said, whomever wrote this article, can suck it. And can come up to Dispatch and see it's not all eating Bon-bons and watching Supermarket Sweep.

REM @ 11/17/2015 9:07 PM

Wow. As for the person who isn't a dispatcher or cop but feels the need to comment based upon his experiences listening to the scanner... LOL! Go away you have no business commenting on anything here at all.

Now, having spent 20 years between patrol, traffic, ESU, and narcotics I am overseeing communications in my twilight years. This article is disappointing. Yes, we have our issues with dispatchers. They surprising have issues with us as well. They are not you secretary, administrative assistant or analyst. Some points made are remotely valid, but highly exaggerated and even insulting. To insinuate an officers death is their fault is insane. Could they have taken steps to reduce the threat? Probably, yes. What about the officers complacency? Shouldn't we go to every call assuming and expecting the worst? Shouldn't we always be prepared for this? Did they not play any role in their deaths? This is an article written by an officer who is lazy, entitled and has excellent finger pointing skills. In fact I wouldn't be shocked if he/she has made Chief by now.

JM @ 2/12/2016 7:26 PM

I don't necessarily see this article as being offensive. I am a dispatcher and there are many people who call and refuse to give information and no matter how much you, as a dispatcher try get the info, it just isn't going to happen sometimes. If you give the call to the officer stating "caller refused to give further details", that's it. That is all you really can do. The officer should know it is not your fault and should not blame you. The "use common sense", "put two and two together" and "pay attention to your work" were probably not all that necessary, but over all I don't think the article was intended to put any one down.

NC @ 10/15/2016 12:56 PM

As a dispatcher for 18 years I can comment on so many topics but what's the sense. Just work together and mention things to one another that could be done better. We need to be a team and work together. God Bless All Law Enforcement, including dispatchers !!!!

James Holmes @ 1/18/2017 8:14 PM

Lol whew there are some thin skinned folks in here who are/were in the wrong field. Now here is my list of what dispatchers AND their bosses NEED to know.

1) Listen to my traffic, it may be life & death and I may not be able to repeat.
2)be professional gather info we don't have time to drive and ask you the finer points you fail to or forget to ask because your tear jerker movie or tv show is paused or you're missing. don't act like you have no tv, most of you do.
3)If i'm concise on radio, it isn't that I'm rude, I'm busy on a call, stop, or worse
4)we do hear about you running your mouth. others aren't as thin skinned as you tell us.
5) If we tell you to hold status checks, THAT is exactly what you do. there is no debate.
6)no dissertations, facts who,what,where,when,why,how
7)no we won't get you food with our discounts, it's rude.
8)Your opinion isn't wanted we got this, we actually are trained, stay at the desk
I'm sure your feelings will be hurt, GET over yourselves or GET OUT!

James Holmes @ 1/18/2017 8:23 PM

You folks on here are so thin skinned. Relax & breathe. Kroger is hiring. This job deals with good and bad, none of us have time to coddle you or lead you through a call you failed to get info on.

You can berate me or call me unprofessional, the truth is you crybabies should be more professional and suck it up, because if I offend you the job already has you close to a heart attack, things people say these days is far worse than me giving you a dose of reality. Seriously leave this job if you can't take this, if you're gone good thing, you were probably the guy/girl who complained on fine officers who told it like it is and YOU got offended. NOPE not a victim before you ask, I call people out when I see wrong. And y'all whining on this article is all kind of stupid. Now get out of my office and go do your job. There's a way to this job, it's called let it go. Sleep. and repeat.

Sincerely FED UP with snowflakes young and old.

James Holmes is a faggot @ 2/26/2017 11:39 PM

James Holmes clearly is one of those want to be tough guy cops who prob can't get a woman and hasn't been laid in a WHILE. Too bad we all know your small junk is terrified to be ridiculed that's why you decided to go into law enforcement or I as I call it garbage men with guns. That's literally all you are, no more no less.
First and foremost: if you'd like perfect info on any call go to the movies. This doesn't exist in the real world when two drunk morons are screaming at eachother and you're asking me a hundred questions over the radio while I attempt to be dr Phil and a referee at the same time.
Two: I'm not responsible for anyone of your lives, ever. You took this job knowing you could get killed at any time, man up or go flip burgers. Stop being a pussy and man up.
Three: I've never asked for a discount on anything because I have actual ethics and I'm not a cheap douchebag who thinks my uniform makes me immune to full price on every single thing I've ever paid for. Be professional James and practice what you preach, buddy.
Four: after working a 12 hour shift I apologize if I make a simple mistake like putting in a tag wrong or not being able to translate your inane babble because you think the soccer mom is the next coming of Isis and you need her run six ways from Sunday. You act tough James so be tough and stop complaining like a pussy.

Ruth Josten @ 5/18/2017 10:23 AM

I have been an officer 23 years and I am currently a Lt. I manage our dispatch center and have the utmost respect for my dispatchers. While looking for an interesting article from the officers perspective, I came across this old article. It's not funny; there is no humorous view. It's rude but I've decided to share this with my dispatchers in an attempt to show them what an ignorant officer might say. The writer complains about being busy on a call...well, my dispatcher will juggle 15 of you at a time and answer the phone. They are there in the traffic pursuit when 5 of you want to talk at the same time. They are there when you yell something nonsensical...and they remain the voice of calm. They are there when an officer goes down and suffer our pain. These people are ethical, hard working professionals.

Not Important @ 12/8/2018 3:29 PM

I was fine with the article because it is one officer's point of view. I am fully aware that many officers in bigger agencies don't get the opportunity to see dispatch at work, so I can understand why they would feel this way. However, where I worked our officers were always passing by dispatch because we were set up right at their station. They always were coming in and talking with us on down time and observing how we work. A few even asked to relay information over to officers asking for it and I let them and they would get a little taste of what I had to deal with (they did not answer phones because that would be a liability issue, only radio). I got lucky in that our officer dispatch relationships were always very good because we understood each other's jobs. I wish more places would make officers have to observe dispatch for at least a week so that they could better understand our jobs and there would be less officers, like the one in the article.

Not Important @ 12/8/2018 3:33 PM

Can I just add that I can see exactly why this article is so offensive to multiple people apparently. To be frank, if this really offends you so much to the point you felt the need to make petty comments about it; maybe you need to rethink about your priorities in life. There is a saying where I worked "Let it roll off your back like a duck" (water rolls off the back of a duck). I suggest you take the same mindset for alleged offensive comments and articles.

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