As a recent (former, nearly 8 years) dispatcher with the Town, I wish there was a way to expose the citizens to the inside of our dispatch center, not only so they can see the working environment, but so they can get a glimpse of our world and reality.
Our shifts are 12 hours long with the potential to go longer, 2 of those shifts require us to work 6 hours as a solo dispatcher - answering ALL 9-1-1 and non-emergency lines, as well as managing the police radio. Our job is not only to assist the citizens of Los Gatos and Monte Sereno when they call either 9-1-1 or the non-emergency number, but to assist our officers with their investigations. When someone calls 9-1-1, our typical response time to answer the call is less than 1 ring, yes, you read that correctly, half a ring and someone is on the other end of the line.
When working solo, there are occasions where the lines ring much longer, simply because we cannot answer all calls at once. It is unlikely that the citizens know our dispatch center answers more mental health calls per capita, than any other city in Santa Clara County. Those types of calls require patience, empathy and time. When a dispatcher is tied up on a call of this caliber, other calls get placed on hold. These are only some of the tasks required of your dispatchers.
This job requires you to go from 0-100 in a matter of seconds, adapting to whatever is on the other end of the phone line or radio, all while managing many different events at one time, without losing track of what is needed. Operating at half staff for nearly a year is unacceptable. Your dispatchers are human beings with current superhuman strength that they should not have to exert. Working hundreds of hours of overtime to fill vacancies, because the Town is unable to meet the contract needs, which would allow your dispatch center to be as attractive to applicants as comparable agencies within Santa Clara County.
This is a life or death situation and could lead to unnecessary tragedy by exhaustion if we cannot recruit and retain qualified people. The Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department should not lower their hiring standards to fill vacancies. The active (and former) members of this department are some of the most selfless and dedicated professionals operating with the highest level of integrity and character.
It's time for the citizens of Los Gatos and Monte Sereno to take action, your dispatchers are counting on you!!