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Oneida County faces difficulties in dispatch recruitment

April 17, 2020 by Kayla Houp

Over the past seven years, Oneida County has had difficulty in recruiting and maintaining a fully-staffed dispatch center.

“Dispatch are kind of — it’s definitely a tough job, a lot of stress, and when you read some of the studies, they say about 4% of the people are able to multitask and are capable of doing the job,” Oneida County Sheriff Grady Hartman said. 

With very few of the general public being capable of handling the stresses of the job, Hartman said factoring in working weekends, late nights, and holidays compounded the challenges of keeping the dispatch center at an acceptable staffing level.

“We haven’t been fully staffed in the seven years that I’ve been the sheriff,” he said. “We’re currently three people short.”

Hartman said the dispatch center received “very few” applications and there was difficulty in finding people interested in the position.

“The ones that do apply take a test, and the test is difficult, but we’ve found if they do well on the test, that may translate into being successful in the dispatch center,” Hartman said. “... We’ve had lots of people take the test and not be successful.”

Concerns

Not having a fully staffed dispatch center poses some concerns, Hartman said.

“If we were to lose another dispatcher, we’re probably going to have to get creative with how we staff that,” he said. “We’re definitely concerned going forward.”

Hartman said the situation in Oneida County was similar to other employers being unable to find people.

“We have other jobs and other divisions that are open. Much fewer applications than in the past, like everybody would be able to testify,” he said. “But dispatch is kind of ... stands out as the most difficult to recruit for.”

In efforts to combat the recruitment issue, Hartman said the county had advertised for the position and conducted job fairs.

“Anything that we can brainstorm, we’re trying,” he said. “We’re not the only sheriff’s office having this problem, as well. I think it’s pretty common, especially in the dispatch, but it’s really noticeable here.”

Hartman said he brought the topic to the county board’s public safety committee on Thursday, March 12, to inform them of some of the challenges the dispatch center was facing.

Kayla Houp may be reached via email at [email protected]


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