How to Make Cops Want You

During my time behind the console, people expected many things of me. Even with all those things floating around my head, the things that mattered most to me personally was what my officers expected from me.

I took back the call and told everyone who would listen that officers never do their jobs and that's why citizens are always pissed and just whatever came to mind. Looking back, I realize what upset me most was that I expected things to run a certain way and when he continued to do something not to my expectation (and liking), I felt like it was a personal affront to my role and responsibility (or in my mind my authority). I never did find out why this officer kept going busy. Maybe he was avoiding the call or maybe he was on a detail I didn't need to know about. Regardless, I'm ashamed to admit, I sent him every paper call I could for a good month after that night. Not the most professional thing I could have done, but it highlights why it's important to avoid power struggles especially imaginary ones.

Keep it fun
(Don't bore me to death)

On third shift, we had a dispatcher who read out calls like she was a talk show host. She wasn't unprofessional. Her voice was full of excitement and often was just what the officers needed to stay awake on some slow nights. Some officers loathed her way of dispatching, but most thought it was fun. One of the hardest things to teach and maintain when working the radio is your sense of humor. Things are often not what they seem. Policy changes occur mid-shift. Calm can go to chaos in a matter of seconds and vice versa. Keeping a sense of fun around your job translates out into the field. Keep from having a bored, monotone voice. Who wants to listen to that for 10 hours? A pleasant voice and demeanor goes a long way in making officers like and respect you and your position.

Be their lifeline
(Be there to help me)

All this said, you can be the most cantankerous, inflexible, grouchy, boring dispatcher every night of the week, as long as your officers know you know where they are, who they are with and will get them help effectively, efficiently and immediately when they need it. Especially in areas where old radio systems do not allow officers to hear each other, their dispatcher could be key to their survival. Talk to any officer and they might not be able to tell you the name, but they recognize the voice of that dispatcher they feel safest with. Be that person.

A colleague recently sent me a quote she had heard. I think this sums up the relationship between dispatcher and officer beautifully:

You may know where you are.
And God may know where you are.
But if dispatch doesn't know where you are,
You and God better be on very good terms.

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