The dispatch center operates with full- and part-time dispatchers, but Maynard said this format is not working.
Currently, the dispatch center has a minimum of two dispatchers per shift focusing on police, fire and emergency medical runs. Maynard said the center needs three dispatchers at minimum as police and fire calls have been increasing for the past several years.
“Your dispatchers are your lifeline,” Maynard said during a February presentation. “It’s a very chaotic and stressful job. Finding someone that is organized, level-headed, and can think on their feet, deal with stress, it’s not easy.”
Besides answering calls for emergencies, the dispatch center, which operates 24 hours a day, most calls are for administrative work required by dispatchers, such as entries for missing persons and warrants, training new dispatchers (a five-month process), entering information into the Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS), and validating the thousands of warrants on file.
“It’s difficult enough to find full-time employees. The pool of applicants for part-time employees was basically non-existent, so we decided we needed to go to a full-time compliment of dispatchers, and in doing so increased the staffing within the dispatch center,” the chief said.
Besides hiring two new police officers, Maynard expects to hire four as two current officers are expected to retire in 2022.
Police officers are complimented by the city’s park rangers, a cadre of retired police officers that provide police coverage in the city’s parks. A fourth part-time park ranger will be added to the staff in 2022, said Maynard, which brings them back to their full complement of rangers. With only three rangers, the chief said three days of the week “the coverage is severely lacking.”
“I think four (rangers) gives us good coverage.”
Rangers are sworn police officers and can be dispatched to emergencies if needed, Maynard said.
“This has happened when we’re short, they’ll dispatch them ... if it’s an emergency and they’re available, we’ll send them,” he said.
The city’s 2022 operating budget will be considered for approval at the Dec. 6 City Council meeting.