The relationship between officers and dispatchers is unique. It's been described as a love/hate thing. I love her for getting me back-up quickly in that fight. Or, I hate her for seeing I statused eating for ten minutes past the approved time and clearing me over the radio to ask about it. It is also parasitic. Both the officer and the dispatcher feed off the other. The officer gets the information he needs without having to look it up on his own. The dispatcher gets to a bit of the excitement in patrol without actually having to be out there being spit on. The relationship is similar to a marriage. Like many, it is co-dependent and, often, dysfunctional. The funny thing is there are few sources for nurturing the officer/dispatcher relationship. No books like 101 Ways to Keep Your Officer Happy. No counselors trained in crisis intervention when the relationship turns sour. So, what are a dispatcher and her officer to do? Here are five tips aimed at happy marriages. They have been altered to fit.
Adhere to the correct role relationships
Officers are not trained to do a dispatcher's job and dispatchers are not trained to do an officer's job. This statement is simple enough. Unfortunately, in practice it gets a bit more complicated. Often officers feel like dispatchers are telling them how to go about their routine business. After all, most dispatchers get to tell officers what calls to take, what time they can eat and whether or not the person they are out with is a dangerous felon who might decide he doesn't really want to go back to jail. There is a lot of power there. But, like Spiderman was told, With great power comes great responsibility. And part of the responsibility of being a dispatcher is remembering that officers know what they are doing. If they aren't taking a call or don't ask for some information, there is a reason. Remember, as a dispatcher, your role is to assist the officer along with dispatching calls for service. Officers, likewise, need to remember the distinct roles. Dispatchers are there to help, but they also have certain policies and procedures. They're also required to follow any directives given at any moment, like the lieutenant saying no one eats until that burglary holding since this morning is taken care of. If each remembers their role, the marriage can be a pleasant one.
Forgive and Forget Conflicts
This is a huge must. Officers and dispatchers can hold on to an incident long after the moment has passed, the animosity lasting for hours, or days, or years. When my husband switched squads, he told me of a chat he had in briefing. Another officer told my husband, in reference to me, I remember her. I typed her something once and she sent back this nasty reply. Regardless of the thousands of interactions I had with officers, this one thought of me negatively over a single incident. And it goes both ways. If an officer goes on a traffic stop right after you send him a paper call, you might think he did it to avoid the call and, in essence, to spite you. It sure feels that way, but it's usually not the case. The biggest thing to keep in mind when you feel slighted is it probably wasn't intentional. With a quick phone call or text message, the issue can be worked out. And, if the other person, be it the officer or the dispatcher, was just being nasty, oh, well. No point getting yourself all worked up over it. Like the saying goes, holding a grudge is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.
Live on a Mature Level