Meet Angela Ruiz, Police Dispatcher
When I graduated high school I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I decided to go to Community College and take some courses. So once I took the criminal justice courses I realized that I wanted to get into law enforcement and I thought I wanted to be a police officer. So I applied with the City of Alameda for their police department as a police assistant which was a part-time job. I used it to pay for my college. Once I did that I realized I needed a full-time position because I wanted to transfer to Cal State East Bay to pay for tuition. So I applied for the Fremont Police Department for the dispatcher position. It was a full-time position so I was able to pay for my college tuition. To apply for the job you have to go online, fill out an application and you have to take a test called CritiCall. You go online and find out what locations offer this test. You get a certificate. Once you get a passing score you submit that with your application and a resume. So when you get called back for an interview for the position you will sit before a panel of about three dispatchers and they will ask you several questions on your judgment and reasoning, your knowledge of the job and, for me, getting that knowledge was working at the Alameda Police Department and speaking with people that held that position.
For those that don’t have that resource you can also ask to sit in any dispatch center. Usually Police Departments will let people sit in on the job for a couple hours so they can see what the job is. And that is where you will be able to see exactly what a dispatcher does. So important characteristics and personality traits for a dispatcher to have is to work under pressure. We are required to handle multiple 911 calls at one time and nonemergency. We have to juggle phones and we also have to be on the radio and be able to respond to any officer that needs help, make sure that he has a cover unit if needed and we have to be able to multitask. Basically that’s what the job is, is multitasking.
The best piece of advice that I would give to somebody that wants to get into dispatching or to work in any law enforcement agency is to keep a clean record. A lot of people that apply with the Police Department get disqualified because they have prior felonies or have made bad decisions involving drinking and doing drugs or just using bad judgment overall. So pretty much if you have a felony, it’s going to disqualify you. A felony can include anything that involves the use of a weapon, causing bodily damage to somebody. So getting into fights, using a weapon against somebody to hurt them. Some of the benefits of being a police dispatcher is you do not need college to apply. You just need a high school diploma. If you choose to want a college career, we do offer tuition reimbursement. We also have a flexible schedule in which you have four days on, four days off so you have plenty of time to go to school. If you’re interested in becoming a police dispatcher I encourage you to seek out, to do a sit-along at any local police department so you can see what the job is about and then go through the application process.