The Communications Division is the largest division within the Services Bureau. The Services Bureau Lieutenant oversees this Division and the authorized strength is 24 civilian employees to include 1 TAC Officer, 11 Dispatchers and 12 Communications Technicians. The Dispatch and Communications Technician positions are essential positions and must be filled 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
The staffing in this area is down considerably due to vacancies and authorized but unbudgeted positions. For years the Department has tried to fully staff this Division. The positions have a high turnover of personnel due to various reasons to include the complexity of the job, high stress, shift work, and the lack of growth opportunity.
The minimum staffing requirements in this Division includes two dispatchers on duty at all times for all three of the eight-hour shifts. It is also required that three Communications Technicians be assigned to first and second shifts, while the third shift requires two Communications Technicians.
The primary responsibility of the Dispatchers is officer safety. The Dispatcher is the lifeline to the officer on the street. The dispatcher is responsible for dispatching police officers or other personnel and equipment, as may be needed, to handle all complaints and requests for police assistance and service according to Department SOP’s. They also are required to alert officers responding to hazardous calls with the necessary information relating to the nature of the call so that it will enable them to take precautions and to advise the officers when such information is not available. This information may be transmitted to the officers via the radio, the computer aided dispatch (CAD) and the mobile data system. The officer’s status is continually monitored and logged into the CAD System when their status changes or is updated. Dispatchers are also responsible for answer telephone calls, fulfilling officer’s requests such as license/registration status, wanted/missing person status and entering and canceling all NCIC information that is provided by the Officers.
The Communication Technician is a call taker that receives both 911 Emergency call and Business calls. The triage the characteristics of a telephone call to determine whether an emergency or non-emergency response is required, enter the pertinent information into the CAD system and transmit it to the Dispatcher. If further information is received that is relevant to an incident, they are responsible for updating the information in CAD. The Technicians transfer calls that are non-service related to the appropriate personnel throughout the facility, give directions, and answer request from the public. They are responsible for monitoring the closed circuit television system that monitors the cellblock area and the facility, update hot sheet information, track court issued paperwork and domestic violence orders and distribute to the officers on the street. They also monitor the Deaf Phone (TDD) and the NAWAS phone.