Dispatchers and 911 System Personnel Evaluations

In the “good old days,” the agency telephone was answered by anyone who happened to be around. No more! With today’s technology and even more with what is to come, public expectations require very sophisticated response with almost no time lag. Even modest failures to meet possibly unrealistic standards have had serious negative public relations impact.

Whether or not 911 and/or dispatch personnel are sworn officers, the responsibility level is always demanding and potentially overwhelming. Consider that there will be occasions when the operator must, effectively for some small period of time, exercise command level responsibilities in allocating resources and making difficult decisions. While the stress is clearly different from that on the street, it can be intense and exacting.

Our approach to assessing candidates for such positions begins with the fact that they must engage in the same “high stakes” activities as all other public safety personnel. There is no tolerance for grossly disruptive characteristics. The tests for those are part of the standard PRSS battery and substantial negative recommendations are based on our normal logic.

Because the tasks to be done are more narrowly defined than those performed by street officers, we can do assess some characteristics which may help or hinder candidates’ performance in the 911 environment. These estimates of how comfortably the person can fit into the job demands are not rigid or exclusive, but rather are given as guidelines for selecting among otherwise equally qualified applicants.

Finally, while the reports on these candidates look very similar in most respects to those for street personnel, there are some substantial differences. Probability estimates and their graphic presentations, based on our research with street officers, are clearly not suitable under these different circumstances and are thus not included. Some norms are also slightly different. However, the reports maintain our normal pattern of definitive hiring recommendations and auxiliary reports for special uses.

To obtain these assessments of potential 911 and/or dispatch personnel, submit the usual test data, obtained in the usual way, and simply indicate the type of position for which the person is being considered. As usual, we are pleased to discuss with the decision makers who use our service; please fell free to us our toll free number at anytime.