A day in the life of an SCSO dispatcher

In the Spokane community, members of law enforcement are a visible representation of the hard work put in to keep the community safe. But, officers and deputies can’t do that work without help from behind the scenes.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office is hiring communications officers, or radio dispatchers, to work with deputies as they respond to calls.

In an emergency, a person calls 911. A 911 dispatcher then passes along the info to the responding agency, where it lands with people like Todd Devenish, who has worked in dispatch for 20 years.

” [We] find out which officers we have out in the field and then as the calls come in from 911 we just process the calls. We try to prioritize them the way they need to be prioritized,” he said.

It won’t get you behind crime scene tape, but it’s as close to a front row seat as you can get. It’s not an easy job, though, and it comes with serious responsibilities. Namely- multitasking. Dispatchers often take multiple calls at a time, or have multiple deputies asking them questions on one call.

“Who has asked us to check a name, or who wants us to make a phone call for them or who needs a tow truck called- just keeping all of that in line and remembering that somebody’s waiting for something,” Devenish said.

“They’re kind of the hub of how first responders make it to the scene- between the citizen and between us,” said Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Gregory.

To put it another way – dispatchers are the ‘pit crew’ of law enforcement, keeping deputies up to speed and ready to go.

“Without them we wouldn’t be able to have the ‘car’ that we have to be able to put out on the ‘track’. They are the ones that ensure that we have a good product each and everyday,” Gregory said.

Devenish says moments can be stressful but, overall, the job is exciting.

“Every day is different to me so everyday is exciting because you don’t know what today brings. And, sometimes it’s something really traumatic, sometimes it’s the guys going out and saving somebody and it’s really exciting,” he said.

A scan of the number – and popularity- of crime shows on television gives a sense of society’s fascination with law enforcement. The life of an officer or deputy might not be for everyone- but this kind of job provides another opportunity to serve the community.

“Everybody, I think, is fascinated with law enforcement, but they just don’t know how to get into it,” Devenish said.

“This is a way that you can get that first hand experience of what’s going on hour by hour, minute by minute- be able to help us and help your community and it’s a great career for people,” Gregory said.

SCSO will host an open house on Tuesday, March 13 to offer information on what the job requires/entails. It begins at 6:00 pm at the Sheriff’s Training Center at 6011 Chase Road in Newman Lake.

Reservations are required- call the Spokane County Civil Service at (509) 477-4711 to add your name to the list. Attendees should bring a Photo ID, a notebook and a pen.