SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – They are a critical part of the job police do, working behind the scenes to get officers to your door when you dial 911. But the process for getting them there is more complex than you might think.
Inside the Sacramento Police Department’s nerve center are people answering 911 calls. Dispatchers send officers to crime scenes all over the city, and it happens at breakneck speed.
Dispatchers with multiple monitors update information on the fly and up to the second. It can be dizzying to watch, even on a routine call. They’re the eyes and ears for responding officers, providing critical information so patrol officers don’t go into a situation blind.
Talking as she types, dispatcher Chanel Flores says the multitasking never ends.
“You can’t miss a beat with what might be coming in at any second,” Flores said as she typed.
Call-takers like Daniel Whent answer 911 and non-emergency calls, transferring worthwhile ones to dispatchers who then send officers to the scene.
“You have people who are frantic, and trying to keep them calm and get the information you need out of them,” said Whent .
But sometimes the calls can be downright strange.
“Well I’m glad it was a good dinner,” a dispatcher said to a caller.
One caller wasted time saying he needed help finding a missing pizza.
“He kept saying, ‘I want my pizza. I want to know where it is.’ And I said, ‘you’re calling 911 about a pizza?’ ” asked Whent.
He says it takes a special kind of person to do this job, someone who can let things go quickly. Just like everything else here, moving on happens fast.
“If you keep it all bottled up you won’t last very long in this job,” said Whent.
To give you some perspective how busy the center is, in the two hours CBS13 spent with dispatchers, they took 200 calls. That’s more than one call every minute.
The Sacramento Police Department says overall 911 call volume has dropped slightly the last few years, but there’s been a dramatic increase in calls from cell phones instead of land lines.