Communications is one of the most important of the support services contained within the police department. It is the service responsible for maintaining a vital link between the public and the officers in the field. Police communications operators, or dispatchers, handle many types of calls and situations daily, from routine to emergency critical incidents. The dispatcher provides a necessary, indispensable function for the public and the police officer alike.
Calls to the Communications Center
At the Spearfish Police Department, the communications center receives thousands of calls a year. Many of these calls are simple requests for directions, locations, phone numbers, and referrals that are handled directly by the dispatcher or transferred to another department for advice or follow-up.
Hundreds of other calls result in calls for service, which require either the response of a police officer or other action that needs to be documented. The majority of calls received are of a routine, business nature that are easily handled by the dispatcher. But there are also those calls of an emergency nature that require the dispatcher's greatest skills, training, and level-headed thinking to be utilized.
Scheduling & Staffing
Dispatchers, like officers, work eight-hour shifts, and there is at least one dispatcher on duty at any given time of day or night on weekdays, weekends or holidays. When fully staffed, the communications service employs seven full-time dispatchers to fill these shifts.