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Police Communications Dispatcher

Police Communications Dispatchers are the lifeline between people calling for help and the officers who respond. 

The hiring process

The recruitment process begins by completing an online application – available on the city’s jobs page when positions are open.

Those who meet minimum qualifications may be invited to complete the CritiCall pre-employment test that measures computer related multi-tasking abilities.

Candidates who successfully complete that test may be invited for a job interview.

The Scottsdale Police Personnel Unit reserves the right to change this process. All test dates are tentative and subject to change. Test dates may be cancelled on short notice. Invitations to test may be rescinded at any time without advance notice.

The Communications Dispatcher profession

This is a tough but rewarding profession – we talk to people over the phone who are often having the worst day of their life.

Communications Dispatchers at the city of Scottsdale will receive nearly 1,000 hours of classroom and live training before they work independently in the dispatch center.

Here are some realities of work as a police dispatcher:

  • Staffing and emergencies may prevent employees from leaving the room even for short breaks.
  • The majority of a dispatcher’s day is spent sitting or standing in front of a phone and radio wearing a headset.
  • Sometimes there is very little happening; other times there may be many things happening all at once – flexibility is paramount.
  • Large scale events occur regularly, requiring long periods of concentration and attention to detail.
  • Training includes daily feedback, positive remarks, and criticism as needed.
  • Mandatory overtime will be assigned according to the needs of the Communications Section.
  • You will be assigned a shift schedule that may include working holidays and weekends.
  • You must be able to arrange transportation and/or child & family care to accommodate your assigned schedule.

Dispatcher CritiCall Test

The computerized CritiCall pre-employment test used by the Scottsdale Police Department measures underlying skills and abilities a person needs to possess prior to any training they might receive if they are hired as a police dispatcher, including the ability to effectively navigate and use a computer. Because of this, a test taker does not need to possess any specialized dispatcher knowledge or training to be able to read, understand, or answer the test items.

CritiCall tests actual skills and computer-related multi-tasking abilities so highly coveted in the dispatching field.

The test requires applicants to listen over a headset instead of reading. All tests are self-scoring.

The skills tested by the Scottsdale Police Department include the following:

No. Test Section Cutoff Score
1 Decision Making --
2 Data Entry MT
3 Data Entry Audio MT Audio
             Combined Data Entry Overall Score (2 & 3)  3494 KPH
4 Call Summarization 2MT
5 Memory Recall Numeric Audio
6 Map Reading
7 Reading Comprehension
            Combined Non-Data Entry Overall Score (4-7)  60%

Applicants have one hour and 40 minutes to complete the test. Each section has a test limit. The time limits range between 4-28 minutes.

Position Overview

Have you ever wondered what distinguishes the position of a Police Dispatcher as a profession instead of ”just a job”? By definition, a profession is a calling that requires specialized knowledge, and often long and intense academic preparation. he training required for this position at Scottsdale Police Department consists of:

  • Average training time of 7-9 months
    • 160 hours of classroom
      • Police Codes
      • Abbreviations
      • Geography
      • Policies
      • Tests and quizzes:must maintain 85% average
    • Up to 480 hours of live, one-on-one call taker training
    • Up to 560 hours of live, one-on-one radio training
  • Live one-on-one floor training with weekly evaluations
  • Shifts rotate every 4-6 weeks depending on what trainer you are assigned.
The work environment is often very fast-paced, and encompasses 24/7 shifts that often require employees to work on weekends, holidays, and at night/overnight.
  • Answer and dispatch both emergency and non-emergency calls for service
    • Non-emergency calls can range from thefts to answering random questions.
    • Emergency calls can range from significantly violent incidents, to in-progress property crimes, to roadway accidents.
  • Radio Dispatching requires a tremendous ability to hear and translate information into computer commands that change and update the officer’s status/location on calls, and other self-generated incidents.

Realities

  • Staffing and emergencies may prevent employees from leaving the room even for short breaks.
  • The majority of a dispatcher’s day is spent sitting or standing in front of a phone and radio wearing a headset.
  • Sometimes there is very little happening; other times there may be many things happening all at once. Flexibility is paramount.
  • Large scale events occur regularly, requiring long periods of concentration and attention to detail.
  • Training includes daily feedback, positive remarks, and critiques as needed.
  • Mandatory overtime will be assigned according to the needs of the Communications Section.
  • You will be assigned a shift schedule that may include working holidays and weekends.You must be able to arrange transportation and/or child care to accommodate your assigned schedule.

The Emotional Side

The journey through a career in law enforcement, whether as a dispatcher or police officer, often begins with excitement and pride when applicants make it through the long and rigorous testing process and background investigation. We begin our careers with energy and positivity; proud and honored by our achievement. We can maintain our pride and stay positive by having a realistic view of what can and does happen on a regular basis.

  • We talk to people over the phone who are often having the worst day of their life.
  • Some of those people are angry, rude, and often obscene.
  • They may have lost a loved-one to a sudden death or suicide.
  • They may have a serious alcohol or substance abuse problem.
  • They may have serious mental or emotional issues.

When we dispatch police officers to these and other calls for service, we also face an internal component that is no less significant. We facilitate the safety of our police officers to the very best of our ability, by providing the most accurate and reliable information possible.

If this is a position you are interested in, know that there are many satisfying and rewarding aspects of the position and that dispatchers make significant contributions to the safety and welfare of our citizens and police officers.

Register to receive email notification for Police Communications Dispatcher openings

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Contact Information

City of Scottsdale - Police Personnel Unit
P:  480-312-1943links to external site
spdpersonnel@ScottsdaleAZ.gov

The City of Scottsdale is an Equal Opportunity Employer

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