Public Safety Communications Specialist

Applications are now being accepted for a Public Safety Communications Specialist eligibility list. Please continue to check back for updates.

Under general supervision, serves in the Public Safety Communications Center on an assigned shift, serving as a call-taker for emergency or non-emergency telephone calls and performing other public safety communications specialties (i.e. police dispatching and teletype operations); and performs related duties as required. Incumbents rotate among the various functions as the workload requires.

Essential Job Functions

The successful incumbent in this role serves in the Public Safety Communications Center on an assigned shift, serving as a call-taker for emergency or non-emergency telephone calls and performing other public safety communications specialties (i.e. police dispatching and teletype operations); and performs related duties as required. Incumbents rotate among the various functions as the workload requires.

The following duties are normal for this position. The omission of specific statements of the duties does not exclude them from the classification if the work is similar, related, or a logical assignment for this classification.  Other duties may be required and assigned.

As a police dispatcher:

  • Following established policies and procedures, operates a computer-aided dispatch console equipped with several computer terminals, controls, and radio frequencies to dispatch police units to the scene of emergencies to safeguard life and property;
  • Determines priorities, making recommendations to dispatch appropriate emergency responders to ensure the most sufficient and rapid respsone;
  • Monitors the status of police units in the field;
  • Notifies street supervisors and respective parties of high priority events;
  • Relays messages and information to units, using the appropriate terminology to reduce air time;
  • Adheres to applicable Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules/regulations;
  • During local emergency incidents, operates the radio console;
  • Researches vehicles, persons, vehicles and other requests by police units;

As a teletype operator:

  • Queries and enters information (i.e. stolen articles, wanted persons, protective orders) into the Virginia Criminal Information Network (VCIN) and National Crime Information Center (NCIC) data files, using prescribed formats and terminals as required by Virginia State Police;
  • Information entered into VCIN/NCIC included but is not limited to: warrants and protective orders, missing adults and juveniles, stolen/towed vehicles, stolen tags, guns and other articles, recovered guns and locates into VCIN/NCIC;
  • Maintains and validates VCIN/NCIC records following established protocols that align with VCIN requirements;
  • Performs responsible technical duties involving operating VCIN computer terminal to enter, inquire, and clear information through VCIN and NCIC
  • Runs criminal history checks;
  • Retrieves and sends teletype messages from law enforcement agencies nationwide;
  • Troubleshoots computer systems when the lines of communications go down;
  • Sends messages to all criminal justice agencies participating in the National Crime Information Center system (NCIC)
  • Performs routine clerical duties, enters and maintains system data in the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system;
  • Provides assistance to other Public Safety Communications Specialists;
  • Records information received from field units and other personnel via telephone or computer terminal and enters it into appropriate files;
  • Must become VCIN level A certified

As a call-taker:

  • Answers emergency, non-emergency, and communication lines and gathers, classifies, and supplements pertinent information obtained from callers and enters it into the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system, using the appropriate screens;
  • Operates an Automatic Call Distributing console to answer, screen, and process incoming emergency and non-emergency calls for service from the general public or other public safety agencies for the protection of life and property;
  • Operates a CAD terminal/keyboard to enter calls and verify locations;
  • Uses 9-1-1 call-taking system and its associated features to answer and transfer emergency calls;
  • During an emergency, establishes communications with the caller and maintains control of the conversation until units arrive on the scene;
  • May perform the duties of CTO Communications Training Officer, training new dispatchers.
  • Researches histories in Record Management System (RMS); Checks the status of warrants through the RMS.
  • Checks driving status, driving history, warrant status, and criminal history via VCIN/NCIC; Conducts driver and license plate checks.
  • Maintains equipment and cleanliness of Communications Center; Makes calls for maintenance and repairs.
  • Answers questions from officers, supervisors, and citizens and provides direction or appropriate referrals to other departments and/or agencies.
  • Communicates with walk-in reports from citizens in the police department's lobby.
  • Performs other related duties as required.
  • Must complete Basic Dispatcher school.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

  • Data Utilization:  Requires the ability to review, classify, categorize, prioritize, and/or analyze data. Includes exercising discretion in determining data classification, and in referencing such analysis to established standards for the purpose of recognizing actual or probable interactive effects and relationships.
  • Human Interaction: Requires the ability to work with various members of the community, internal and external stakeholders and provide exceptional customer service. Ability to listen and respond effectively to abusive and excited callers without deterioration of quality of service. Ability to speak clearly and concisely.
  • Equipment, Machinery, Tools, and Materials Utilization: Requires the ability to operate and control the actions of equipment, machinery, tools, and/or materials used in performing essential functions.
  • Verbal Aptitude: Requires the ability to use the written language and understand and logically work through concepts presented and expressed through words.
  • Mathematical Aptitude: Requires the ability to perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division; the ability to calculate decimals and percentages; the ability to utilize principles of fractions; and the ability to interpret graphs.
  • Functional Reasoning: Requires the ability to apply principles of influence systems, such as motivation, incentive, and leadership, and to exercise independent judgment to apply facts and principles for developing approaches and techniques to resolve problems. Ability to act quickly and decisively in an emergency.
  • Situational Reasoning: Requires the ability to exercise judgment, decisiveness and creativity in situations involving the evaluation of information against sensory, judgmental, or subjective criteria, as opposed to that which is clearly measurable or verifiable. Ability to exercise tact and sound judgment.

Working Conditions

  • Physical Ability: Tasks require the ability to exert light physical effort in sedentary to light work, but which may involve some lifting, carrying, pushing, and/or pulling of objects and materials of lightweight (5-10 pounds). Tasks may involve extended periods of time at a keyboard or workstation.
  • Sensory Requirements: Some tasks require the ability to perceive and discriminate colors or shades of colors, sounds, and visual cues or signals.  Some tasks require the ability to communicate orally.
  • Environmental Factors: Essential functions are regularly performed without exposure to adverse environmental conditions.


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