CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Police departments across the state are in need of 911 dispatchers. Corpus Christi Police Department said it's experiencing a shortage of dispatchers for many reasons.
CCPD Capt. Russell Sherman said the department currently has 46 dispatchers working, and it is in the process of training eight more people. Eight other dispatching positions need to be filled.
“When someone is in crisis, that is the first voice that someone is going to hear when they call," Sherman said.
Candace Martinez is a dispatcher and training coordinator for MetroCom. She said if there aren't enough dispatchers, emergency calls will go unanswered.
“It delays the response times for officers, it delays response times for firefighters for medics, and so having enough people to answer the phones is critical," she said.
Sherman said dispatchers receive, on average, 1,600 to 2,300 inbound calls a day.
Martinez said being a dispatcher is a hard job, not physically, but mentally and emotionally. She said people don't know if they can do the job until they begin to answer calls, something she said is the easy part.
It's when situations are active and they have to help officers maneuver when they're in harm's way that it gets stressful.
“The difficult part is when the officer is screaming that he has been stabbed or that he has been shot," she said. "So those are the calls that people -- they can't emotionally . . . can't handle it, so it increases our turnover."
Sherman said with the shortage of dispatchers, CCPD is adjusting schedules around peak hours, providing overtime and working with city and county officials to offer competitive wages.
“So our dispatchers used to start at $14 an hour and now they are starting at $18.87 an hour," Sherman said
You can apply to become a dispatcher on the CCPD website.