By Sheriff Wade Magers, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office
“9-1-1 What is the Location of your Emergency?” This phrase is used multiple times a day in the Lincoln County Communications Center. Nine full time Dispatch/Corrections Deputies and 2 Supervisors provided 24/7 coverage. The Communications Center is staffed with a minimum of two dispatchers at all times, who work days, nights, weekends and holidays. This small staff of nine is responsible for answering all 9-1-1 calls that are made within Lincoln County as well as transferred calls from neighboring counties and agencies. They dispatch for the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, 2 Police Departments, National Park Service, and 7 Lincoln County Fire and EMS Districts. In addition to 9-1-1 calls, all non-emergent calls ring into the Communications Center as well. Reports ranging from lost dogs, burn requests, suspicious vehicles, fraud, inmate requests, traffic hazards, speeding vehicles, etc are all handled by the same group of dispatchers. In 2019 Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office received 4405 9-1-1 calls and approximately 20,500 administrative calls. Dispatchers made over 10,000 outbound calls during this same period.
These Dispatch/Corrections Deputies are highly trained and have an incredibly specialized job to do. They are not only 911 call takers, and dispatchers; but they are also Corrections Deputies who work in the Lincoln County Jail, providing care and custody for up to 31 inmates at a time. The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office houses inmates that are sentenced to 365 days or less. The inmates are housed on misdemeanor charges, gross misdemeanor and felony charges. The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office also contracts with outside agencies including Department of Corrections, Stevens County Jail, Fairchild Air Force Base and US Marshals. Corrections Deputies are responsible for every aspect of the jail including booking, releasing, fingerprinting, court appearance escorts, as well as meals, medication, cleaning and daily care and custody.
Upon hire, Dispatch/Corrections Deputies start an approximately year-long training process. They are required to attend a 4 week Corrections Officer Academy which is run by the Criminal Justice Training Commission. They join other Corrections Officers from across the state where the curriculum includes booking, transport, communications, peer support, legal issues where they gain the basic knowledge and skills needed to provide a safe and effect service in the jail. There is also a physical requirement to this job, which requires deputies to pass a physical ability test, which includes a 1.5 mile run, push-ups and sit-ups. Dispatch/Corrections Deputies will also attend Telecommunication courses and Emergency Dispatch courses that are taught to new dispatchers across the state. The new hire receives most of his/her training on the job. They study Lincoln County Policy and Procedures, learn multiple computer programs including a Computer Aided Dispatch System as well as a Jail Record Management System. Typing, organization, prioritizing, working in a high stress environment, great communication skills and teamwork are all necessary skills.
Although Lincoln County’s Dispatch/Corrections Deputies are not highly visible, they are the first voice you hear when calling for assistance. They are often referred to as the unseen heroes of Public Safety and provide an invaluable role of gathering data, providing detailed information to responding road deputies and/or medical/fire personnel and detailed documentation of every aspect of the call and conversations. They are master multi-taskers and are able to type information as it’s relayed to them, talk on the radio, and listen to someone talking on the phone all at the same time; all while remaining calm, working as a team with their partner and providing pre-arrival instructions to callers whether then need assistance from Law Enforcement, Fire or Medical.
The Dispatch/Corrections team at the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office typically plays a part in a call for service from start to finish. An example of a possible scenario could be: A citizen in Lincoln County calls 9-1-1 to report a possible drunk driver who is crossing the center line and fog line. The dispatcher will obtain the direction of travel, vehicle description, etc and type all that information into their Computer Aided Dispatch Software. They will then advise all available Lincoln County Road Deputies of the complaint and vehicle description. Once that vehicle is located and stopped, the dispatcher will run the vehicle registration, the driver information; checking for driving status, warrants, protection orders etc. If that person is taken into custody for DUI or any other criminal charge; that same Dispatch/Corrections Deputy will book the person into jail. While in jail Dispatch/Corrections Deputies will provide the care and custody of that inmate.
The skill set of these nine Lincoln County Dispatch/Corrections Deputies is like no other. They are expert communicators, thrive in stressful situations, remain calm and clear headed, are teamwork centered, and are dedicated to providing expert customer service to all that call the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. I am extremely proud of our Dispatch/Corrections Deputies. Make sure you thank our Dispatch/Corrections Deputies for their dedication to the citizens of Lincoln County. No matter the call Lincoln County Dispatchers will be the calm when you call 9-1-1.