Colusa County 9-1-1 dispatchers are the linchpin to the Sheriff’s Office emergency response system, but they are hard to hire and even harder to keep, officials said.
On April 16, the Colusa County Board of Supervisors agreed to try something new to ensure a higher rate of success among new recruits.
The board adopted a new classification of dispatcher trainee, an entry-level position that would allow for longer “hands-on” training and guidance from supervisors for those who may need more time to pass the California state test required to be a dispatcher.
“Challenges with recruiting dispatchers have led to the sheriff requesting an additional option to be able to grow our own staff,” said Patricia Leland, Human Resources director.
Sheriff’s dispatchers perform a variety of duties for emergency and non-emergency calls; they operate a variety of communication equipment and dispatches necessary units to calls for services. They are often the first contact the public has with emergency response personnel.
Leland said the dispatcher trainee classification would create a 12-month probationary period for recruits to pass the Peace Officer Standard of Training dispatcher test, which would make for a more successful transition into a long-term career in Colusa County. At the entry level, the trainees would receive specific day-to-day direction under close supervision, and advance to the dispatcher position with satisfactory performance and POST certification for the job.
The Colusa County Sheriff’s Office currently has two vacant dispatcher positions.
“It’s a challenging position, not just for our own organization, but traditionally,” Leland said.
The dispatcher trainee salary is $3,132 to $4,432 a month, which is approximately 10 percent below the general dispatch position. ■