Questions Posted to "Ask a Dispatcher"
Q. My child has been asking if JPD is going to be having their Junior Police Accademy this Summer. It has been a huge success in the past and will be greatly missed if it is no longer available.
Dear Juneau Resident,
JPD is very sorry that we will not be able to do the Junior Police Academy this summer. The program was a huge hit and we believe made a difference for lots of young people.
We canceled the academy this summer because JPD is having great difficulty staffing the dispatch center. When the school based duties of the school resource officers ended earlier this month both officers were moved to dispatch,one to work and one to train in that capacity. The school resource officers are the ones who run the academy and they can't be two places at once.
The reassignment of those officers is part of a new program to cross train police officers from various divisions to help out in dispatch. First, the officer will work an assigned dispatch position to get trained and then work a few months. After that the officer can pick up overtime shifts in dispatch or fill in during a staffing emergency. This is a new idea for JPD but does happen in other areas. Our own chief had a dispatch rotation in his prior department.
JPD felt like there had to be something drastic done about dispatch because staff was regularly working 60 hours a week. While the money was good the burn out and turn over was staggering. JPD hopes by reducing dispatcher hours with officers we can turn the tide where dispatchers aren't being worked into the ground and new hires and experienced dispatchers will be more likely to stay. Dispatch trained officers also give JPD a safety net to make sure we have the staff to guarantee the phones are always answered.
Once a number of officers are trained to help in dispatch, and hopefully more dispatchers are hired, JPD plans to go back to doing programs like the Junior Police Academy. We are all keeping our fingers crossed for next summer.