The St. Helena Parish Sheriff's Office dispatch unit provides the foundation of success and can be called a group of silent heroes. The duties of a dispatcher are to ensure that all calls to the Sheriff's Office are handled with integrity and the urgency that is needed for the Road Deputies while also assisting citizens in the department lobby and responding to outside agencies with requests. The ability to multitask as a disptacher is important, especially when it all happens at once. They are responsible for dispatching calls in reference to criminal activity and to check and ensure the safety of the officers that have responded to calls, along with many other various tasks. Let's take a quick look at some of their duties:
- Receiving intial calls
- Entering info into the computer
- Prioritizing calls
- Deciding who the proper response personnel are
- Using maps to give proper directions and to see if the offense occured in our parish
- Tracking calls for the specific time of disposition
- Dispatching law enforcement officers
- Dispatchers communicate with all field units by radio (the dispatcher functions as the lifeline for the units in the field)
- Communicating the wants and needs of the public to the proper agency or department
- Receiving the needs of the units in the field, then determining how to assist
Dispatchers work in an office environment having multiple duties to perform in conjunction with their dispatch duties, and for all the job responsibilities they have, it's all about assigning priorities to each call received (that's why some callers question the response time of the deputies).
Tips for Callers
Speak slowly and clearly. Let the dispatcher ask the questions that the first responders will need to know. When you call for assistance, you should have available:
Where: The location of the offense. While you may be calling from a location separate from where the offense occurred, please advise where the offense happened.
What: What is the offense? What is the reason you need a deputy?
Who: Who is causing the problem? Did you see them? What is their description?
Weapons: Were there any weapons involved? What kind? Are the weapons still on the scene?
Direction of travel: If the person left the scene, which direction did they go? Did they leave in a vehicle? Can you describe the vehicle and do you get their license number?
Most Importantly: Please try to stay calm. While the dispatcher realizes that this call may be extremely serious, please be patient and help us help you.
Be sure to make a note of as many of the descriptors (see illustration below) as possible. Keep the information for the officer when he/she arrives.