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City of Torrance
Class Code: 7305

Class Designation: Civil Service

February 2009

Representation Unit: Torrance Municipal Employees
(AFSCME Local 1117)


Public Safety Dispatcher


Under general supervision, operates communication systems utilizing radio, telephone and computer equipment to receive 911 emergency and routine calls requesting police or fire services; provides information to the public; dispatches safety personnel and equipment in response to service requests and to organize and coordinate the activities of field units; maintains records of activities in response to service requests; and performs related work as required.

Distinguishing Characteristics

This is an entry/journey level class, distinguished from the Services Officer in that the incumbent is not responsible for enforcement of State laws and City ordinances.  Assignments are generally limited in scope and are set within procedural frameworks established by higher level positions. As experience accrues, the incumbent performs with increasing independence.  Work requires incumbent to exercise some judgment in selecting appropriate established guidelines to follow; significant deviations require prior approval.  Interpretation of general administrative or operational policies is sometimes necessary.
Lateral-entry Public Safety Dispatcher is distinguished from entry-level Public Safety Dispatcher in that the lateral-entry Public Safety Dispatcher is required to have two (2) years of continuous employment as a Dispatcher or Communications Operator (in Police or Fire) within the last three (3) years.

Supervision Exercised/Received

Receives general supervision from the Police Officer in Charge and/or the Public Safety Communications Supervisor, Police Sergeant or Police Lieutenant.

Examples of Essential Duties

The following duties represent the principal job duties however; they are not all-inclusive.
  • Dispatches personnel to scene of reported incidents, or to back up personnel requesting assistance. 
  • Exercises considerable judgment in dispatching deployed units, emergency resources and equipment. 
  • Prioritizes emergency calls under direction to ensure that calls of a more urgent nature receive priority over other calls. 
  • Relays information, via multiple communications systems including radio, telephone and computers between citizens, City personnel and personnel of other agencies. 
  • Assists personnel in the field with information relating to: subjects (e.g., criminal and driving records, warrants, etc.); vehicles (e.g., wants and warrants); and property (e.g., guns and bicycles) in order for field personnel to determine the appropriate action to be taken. 
  • Constantly monitors resources in the field in order to determine location and status of personnel for service. 
  • Continually monitors and updates information and mapping systems showing present location of emergency vehicles and equipment and the status of vehicles and equipment as events occur.
  • Monitors one or more frequencies as assigned.
  • Receives incoming telephone calls for City Departments in order to screen emergency calls from routine business calls and forwards calls and messages to proper destination.
  • Under the supervision of the Fire Department Area Coordinator assists with communication and coordination of resources in response to requests for mutual aid.
  • Provides the public with emergency medical dispatch instructions and/or basic instruction to safeguard persons in hazardous conditions and medical emergencies prior to the arrival of emergency personnel. 
  • Examples of Other Duties

    The following duties represent duties that are generally performed by this position, but are not considered to be principal job duties:
  • Provides on-the-job training to newly hired Public Safety Dispatchers in dispatch procedures.
  • Performs routine data entry as required.
  • Performs related duties as required.
  • Minimum Qualifications

    Knowledge of
  • Communication equipment in use by the City.
  • Operations of computer-aided public safety dispatch systems.
  • Emergency medical dispatch protocols.
  • Standard radio and telephone communications receiving and transmitting equipment.
  • Standard broadcasting procedures and rules.
  • Public safety classification codes and computer codes.
  • City policies and procedures affecting departmental operations.
  • General City operations.

    Ability to
  • Learn, perform and retain computer-aided dispatch and related software applications.
  • Operate City communication equipment and telephone switchboard.
  • Develop a working knowledge of City layout, streets, major businesses and emergency facilities.
  • Retain, recognize and use coded dialogue used in radio transmission.
  • Remain calm, control voice, and think quickly, logically and clearly in emergency situations.
  • Adjust to changing situations and operations as they are occurring.
  • Quickly assess a situation and take appropriate action under stressful and emergency conditions.
  • Establish and maintain cooperative working relationships with co-workers, other City employees, employees of other agencies and the public under normal working conditions and in emergency  situations.
  • Handle multiple tasks and priorities simultaneously.
  • Comprehend and accurately give directions from a map and/or Thomas Guide.
  • Understand and carry out complex oral and written directions.
  • Speak clearly, concisely and distinctly.
  • Keep accurate records.
  • Work effectively and efficiently with a minimum of supervision.
  • Act independently, exercise sound judgment within established guidelines and maintain confidentiality.
  • Accurately use a computer keyboard by touch.
  • License or Certificate

    Must obtain and maintain a valid Public Safety Dispatcher POST and Emergency Medical Dispatch certification within one (1) year of hire.

    Lateral Entry

    Must obtain and maintain a valid California POST Public Safety Dispatch Certificate and, within six (6) months of hire, must obtain and maintain a valid Emergency Medical Dispatch Certificate.

    Education and Experience

    Any combination of education and experience that provides the knowledge and skills required is qualifying.  A typical way to obtain the knowledge and skills would be:

    Graduation from high school or possession of a GED Certificate.  One year of experience in voice communications equipment or public contact work involving the use of communication equipment.

    Lateral Entry

    Graduation from high school or possession of a GED Certificate.  Two (2) years of continuous employment as a Dispatcher or Communications Operator (in Police or Fire) inthe state of California within the last three (3) years.  Possession of a Public Safety Dispatcher POST certificate is highly desireable. 

    Special Requirements

    Performance of the essential duties of this position includes the following physical demands and/or working conditions:

    Incumbents are frequently required to remain in the immediate work area throughout the work shift and may be ordered to work overtime with short notice.

    Will be required to work various assigned shifts, including weekends and holidays.

    Requires the ability to sit for extended periods of time, read color coded displays; use a computer terminal for extended periods; hear sufficiently to accurately and completely obtain information from callers; communicate clearly to effectively dispatch information over the radio/communication system. Tasks are regularly performed without exposure to adverse environmental conditions.

    Career Ladder Information

    Experience gained in this classification may serve to meet the minimum requirements for promotion to Public Safety Communications Supervisor.