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About the job...

Many of you visiting this page may be unfamiliar with the job of a dispatcher or communications officer, so I shall attempt to explain it briefly here. You must understand that every department is different, in order to meet the needs of the agencies and citizens being served by the communications center. I will tell you about my job with the Washington State Patrol.

I work in Bremerton, Washington, on the Kitsap Peninsula, at the headquarters office for District 8 of the Washington State Patrol. District 8 covers 7 counties along the coast of Washington: Kitsap, Mason, Grays Harbor, Pacific, Wahkiakum, Jefferson and Clallam. We dispatch units in all 7 counties from Bremerton by remote radio links.

We normally have 3 Communications Officers working at a time from 7am to 11pm, and 2 working from 11pm to 7am. The Communications Officers answer cellular 911 calls, State Patrol emergency numbers, State Patrol non-emergency numbers and Poaching Hotline calls.

The Communications Officers are both call receivers and dispatchers, meaning that we talk to callers on the phone and units on the radio at the same time, constantly balancing the priority of the call with the priority of the radio traffic to determine whether to put a caller on hold or tell the trooper on the radio to stand by.

We take reports of accidents, enter the information into our computer aided dispatch (CAD) system, dispatch a trooper to the scene and call the appropriate communication center for the area to dispatch an aid car if there are injuries. We also use our radio system to let our troopers know about traffic hazards, major crimes in progress that local police may need assistance with, suspect information from other agencies investigations, disabled vehicles, hazardous material incidents, and a multitude of other incidents pertaining to public safety on the highways.

Communications Officers keep computer records of all the incidents the State Patrol investigates or receives information on, look up driving records and criminal histories of suspects for troopers investigations , check vehicles license plates or VIN numbers to verify they are not reported as stolen vehicles, answer some questions for citizens regarding traffic laws, take phone messages for troopers, keep status checks of our units and send them help if they don't answer a status check while on a traffic stop.

In addition to dispatching troopers, we also provide communications services to State Fish and Wildlife Officers, State Park Rangers, US Forest Service units and Department of Natural Resources enforcement officers.

All in all, being a Communications Officer, while stressful at times, is a very satisfying, exciting and worthwhile career. At the end of each day, I feel I have done my part to make the world a better, safer place.

If you are interested in becoming a Communications Officer, please see the Washington State Patrol Recruitment Page.

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