As a 911 operator and in our defense, please realize that more often than not, people call us yelling, cursing and calling us names over and over for things we have no control over or involvement in. So usually, there's a little apprehension when answering each call. Dispatchers are the public's whipping boy. Many times I have been nothing but polite and professional to people, but rather than just allowing me to get them what they need, they would rather argue with me and insult me (and then they're mad because I'm not getting them their cop, ambulance, etc. fast enough). A lot of times, I have to ask people, "Why are you yelling at me? I am trying to help you with your situation."
I hate my job. It is extremely stressful, doesn't do much for your health (especially if you're on 3rd shift), you work crazy hours (including holidays and weekends), you end up with a jaded perspective of society and often end up a little bitter. You can buy into the "it's so rewarding to help people" stuff all you want -- it's a thankless job. In 3+ years, I can probably count on one hand the times I have been genuinely thanked or recognized for my efforts. No matter what we do, it's usually not good enough and if you don't enjoy confrontation, are easily offended or don't like being yelled at, don't apply. You can be asking perfectly relevant questions to get someone the right help that they need, but instead of just answering them, they'll tell you it's none of your business. And sorry guys, but sometimes cops and firefighters can be more high maintenance than super models and make your job more difficult than it needs to be -- they yell and cuss at you too. And they're the ones who get the awards and recognition!
Go ahead, pick on the guy you talked to on the phone. You have no clue what the call before you was like or what else he's got going on there. He may have had a horrible accident to work through or he may have had someone else calling him a "huge jerk" because they didn't get the answer they wanted. He may have just been told he has to work an extra 4 hours because the guy on the shift after him called in sick. He may have had a fully engulfed house fire sitting on his plate when you're call came in along with the 20 other calls reporting the same fire. If he had a really busy night, he's already trying to figure out where he's going to come up with available bodies to help you out. Or -- this is fun -- imagine getting a high priority call that needs your quick response and then having to field another call for something petty like a phone number that someone was too lazy to look up on their own and they're mad at you because you're short with them. And there is this strange thinking out there that 911 is for ANY type of emergency....."my toilet's backed up," "I can't find a parking space," "my electricity is out," "when is the 4th of July parade?" Yeah, great use of our time.
So I apologize for the "huge jerk," but you've got to take into consideration what/who dispatchers deal with daily. You have to be everyone's common sense advisor. And this sounds awful, but there are some people out there who don't understand "nice" -- and that's coming from someone who usually is accused of being "too nice" frequently. You can try to make people feel safe and calm over the phone, but what I've found is that I'm trying to be calm in a stressful situation and the person on the other end is getting upset with me because I'm not as wound up and emotional as they are -- that often gets mistaken for having an attitude or not caring when in all actuality, I'm writing down some of the things they're saying, already getting officers moving and trying to get as much information as I can from someone who is freaking out.
Taking all that into consideration, if you think you can do better and it still sounds like fun, check the websites of your local PD's and sheriff's depts. Check the newspaper for listings. Some states have specific law enforcement websites that list all the jobs available in your state. For most, the qualifications are HS graduate, able to speak/write well (communicate), able to type quickly/accurately, able to effectively handle stressful situations, blah blah blah. What they should really put in those job descriptions is "must have a tough skin, not easily offended, flexible schedule (ie: no personal life), be willing to work TONS of overtime, able to accept "constructive" criticism, able to work with all sorts of egos, able to understand people when they're drunk and slurring their words, able to speak every language under the sun, psychic ability is a bonus, ability to recognize and understand mental illness and must have a warped sense of humor because if you don't, you'll never survive."
Answered By: pinksk8ergal - 9/9/2007