Where I chat with Los Angeles Police Department Communications on Twitter

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So today on my Twitter feed, @KC6YRU, this popped up from the Communications Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. In case the font is a bit difficult to read, here’s a recap:

Poll: On average, how long does it take to fully train a new Police Service Representative (Public Safety Dispatcher) at ?”

Choices are 12 weeks, 24 weeks, or 46 weeks. Most respondents got the correct response, 46 weeks.

The next Tweet is what caught my eye.

Great job and thanks for answering our poll. It takes nearly a full year to train a new PSR (46 weeks average). The training is two phases: Dispatcher (RTO) then Call-taker (EBO). The training consists of classroom, simulations and hands-on.

It was interesting to me that LAPD trains on radio first, then on phones. That’s the reverse at what we do at our agency. I Tweeted at LAPDCD:

“You train radio first? That’s interesting. We do phones and CLETS first, radio after.”

They replied moments later (somebody’s working on a weekend):

We do. The PSR position must be able to perform both functions; radio and phones. Historically, radio has been the more difficult of the two, so we train on that first.”

That’s true for us, as well. The radio will kick your ass. It did mine, and I already knew the area, radio codes, and was an experienced ham radio operator, so I did not experience “mic fright” (a very real thing for new dispatchers). It’s even more difficult for folks who have to learn all of that stuff from scratch.

Our training program has evolved since I was a newbie (24 years ago), from three months of combined radio/phones to a much longer process. Now, we train on phones and paperwork first (there’s a ton of “paperwork” these days, even if most of it is on the computer), then radio. As I was thinking about it, it seemed to me that by doing it this way, we build up the confidence of the trainee that they really can handle whatever gets thrown at them. By the time they get to radio training, they’ve handled a ton of 9-1-1 calls, not to mention the endless routine phone traffic.

LAPD has one of the largest communications divisions in the country, so they know what they’re doing. I wonder what their wash-out rate is, and how long they keep new hires?

My interest in law enforcement dispatching undoubtedly stems from endless reruns of Adam-12 in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s.

“Adam-12, see the man, a 415 in progress. Adam-12, handle code-2”

And of course the opening credits:

“Adam-12, a 211 in progress. Adam-12, handle code-3”

(they never did say where the 211 was located, but the good ole’ Adam-12 car was shown rolling code-3… somewhere.)

 

Advanced Dispatcher Training

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So for the past two days, I’ve been dragging my ass backside out of bed at 7am to attend “Advanced Dispatcher” training.  Held out at our “Training Facility” at Sequoia Field, the class starts at 8am.  As you can imagine, 8 am comes damned early to someone who is usually just entering REM sleep about that time!  15 + years of swing shift does not allow easy shifting of one’s biological rhythms!  One more day, then I’ll have a nice certificate that will tell all assorted and sundry individuals that I am a certified advanced dispatcher.  And that I really CAN get up at 7am, if I have to.  I will hate it, but I can.

Three of us from TCSO are attending, several from VPD,  Kings County, and surprisingly, Turlock and Tracy PD sent dispatchers all the way to Visalia’s boon-docks for the class.

The training is out at our offices at Sequoia Field, a WWII era pilot training facility.  Remodeled who knows how many times, several Sheriff’s Department offices are housed at the site.  It creates an interesting mix of the old and new.

One more day, and we’re done.  The two days so far have been interesting, and I feel that I’ve learned some things.  One, that all dispatchers are nuts, and two, that we all have the same problems!

The instructor is an interesting fellow, good speaker, tells some interesting stories, and is a fellow HAM radio operator!  With an repertoire like that, there’s no way the class can be boring.  The last day will be a different teacher, and rumors have been floated about her…  “different”…  methodology.  It will be interesting to see what happens.  I’ve heard things about a guitar, and candles.

Yeah, Thursday might be very interesting!

UPDATE: THURSDAY after the fold…

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