BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — They answer the call when you're in danger. And on their wall they remind themselves they're the glue that holds it all together.
Bakersfield Police dispatchers are rarely seen, but they're the one you need to talk to in order to get help in an emergency. This week Bakersfield Police Department is looking to add new recruits to their command center.
Tamia Smith is the communications supervisor for Bakersfield Police. She said, "Entry level dispatcher. Basically what they do is they answer incoming 9-1-1 calls, non-emergency calls and our admin line calls as well as handle primary operations on our channels for dispatch police officers."
Smith said they need between seven to ten dispatchers a shift in order to keep up with the high call volume.
"We averaged last year 765,000 incoming calls," said Smith. "We also dispatched calls for service for 270,000 plus calls for service, which averages out to about 2,000 to 2,500 calls per day."
To keep up with demand Smith said BPD is always looking for new recruits. She said having to have staff work 24 hours a day and 365 days a year makes for scheduling conflicts. And the high-stress job isn't for everyone, so they're always on the lookout for future dispatchers.
"It's a stressful job," said Smith. "Some people can't handle the stress of answering a call and someone's screaming, answering another call and someone's being argumentative or verbally abusive to them."
Ingrid Rincon is six months through her twelve month training period. And she said despite the high-stress work environment, being a dispatcher is rewarding.
"I had a caller call, and she was going through a tough time," said Rincon. "She was crying so I took the time to talk to her. And I was just talking to her like as a friend. So at the end of the call she told me how much she appreciated just talking to me, so I felt like that was the rewarding part. I was like man I changed her day."
Rincon grew up in Bakersfield, and she said becoming a dispatcher is her way of giving back to her hometown.
"To be able to know that they don't see you, but yet you are able to help them in the worst day of their life. So when they're in a crises you help them out."
In order to become a trainee like Rincon, Smith said you have to be over 18, be able to type at least 35 words per minute, be able to multitask under pressure and have an understanding of Bakersfield.
"You also have to be able to pass a written test that's provided. And then you have to have an oral interview. You have to pass the oral interview as well. After that there's an extensive background check that you go through," said Smith.
To apply for a dispatcher position, Smith continued, "They can go online and apply at our website. They can also go in person to our human resources and apply. On January 24th we'll be holding an orientation where they'll have the opportunity to ask questions."
If you're interested in becoming a dispatcher Smith suggests you work on your typing skills, learn about the Bakersfield police department and study the map of Bakersfield.
"I thought I knew Bakersfield," said Rincon, "but just knowing what I knew before it helped me out. But now that I work here I know Bakersfield a lot more than I thought I could."
Starting salary for a Bakersfield Police dispatcher is between $16 to $22 dollars an hour with benefits. And Smith said raises come regularly.
"You get a rate increase, we call a step increase, at six months of completion of the six months. Then after every year you get a step increase raise," said Smith.
Bakersfield police says Thursday January 24th there will be the public orientation about becoming a BPD dispatcher. Then in February officers plan to host the written and oral examines. And trainee Rincon says, if you like helping people, it's worth learning more about becoming a dispatcher.
"It's a journey, it's a journey," said Rincon. "So, it's stressful, but it's very rewarding. At the end of the day it's worth it."
For more information about the job posting, visit Bakersfield Police's website: here.