The Dallas Police Department is hiring new 911 call takers and dispatchers as the city works to reduce call times at its Communications Center.
City leaders have said a high number of abandoned 911 calls (when someone dials 911, but then hangs up before speaking to a call taker) are tying up their Communications Center employees, who are required to call those people back to determine whether they have an emergency. That, in turn, results in longer wait times for other 911 callers.
And it's why DPD is hosting a 911 Communications job fair Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1 at its headquarters on South Lamar Street.
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Christen Fields-Carr is among the call taker applicants. She says her mom was a dispatcher in New Orleans and told her about the stressful job with high turnover rates, but Fields-Carr feels she is needed.
“Definitely the delays have made me very aware of what I can do as a citizen and as big as Texas is and Dallas is we need as many people as possible,” she said. “I’m hearing about the little baby that died because of the delay and I just wanted to be of service.”
Charline Johnson also wants to become a Dallas 911 call taker. “I just want to make sure those people that I’m helping, get help,” she said.
Applicants must pass a polygraph, a background and a skills test.
"This is really, really important," said Deputy Chief Scott Walton, who oversees the department's personnel division. "We're trying to hire as many 911 call takers as we can because, really, the 911 call-taker position is the first link in that public safety chain."
By 1 p.m., officials said more than 225 people had applied for the positions. Walton did not want to go into specifics about how many call taker and dispatcher positions the department is looking to fill, but said the goal of the job fair is to find qualified people who can begin working in the Communications Center within the next 90 days.
"You have to be able to go, almost with little notice, from it being very quiet to receiving a lot of calls very quickly and being able to get that information in and send it over to whoever needs it to get the emergency response, then move on to the next call," said Walton. "And there's such a wide variety of calls that come into the 911 center. You have to have someone who is pretty agile to handle all that."
The job fair runs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. Applicants should bring a valid driver's license with them. For more information about qualifications and starting salaries, visit the Dallas Police Department's website.