The El Cajon Police Communications Division serves as the vita link between our community and available emergency services. The Communications Division serves as the only Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for accessing police, fire and medical services within the City of El Cajon and is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, providing the highest quality of service to a population of over 100,000 citizens. The Communications Division consists of 21 non-sworn personnel, including: 1 Communications Center Manager, 4 Supervising Police Dispatchers, 9 Police Dispatchers, and 7 Public Safety Communications Operators. All Communications staff regularly work 12 hour shifts.
Public Safety Communications Operator – Primary responsibilities include answering 911 and business line phone calls as well as CAD (Computer Aided Dispatching) entry and records systems.
Police Dispatcher – Primary responsibilities include dispatching calls for service, dealing with critical incidents, and keeping track of personnel in the field.
Supervising Police Dispatcher – Oversees the daily operations, ensures the equipment is working correctly, and handles the public notification of current critical incidents.
Communications Center Technology
The Communications Center is equipped to staff seven individual workstations. Four of the stations are phone consoles, which handle the incoming 911 and business line calls. Two of the stations are dispatch consoles equipped with radio equipment used to communicate with field personnel. The seventh station is the on-duty supervisor’s console. Each console is equipped with six monitors. Four monitors are utilized to run Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD). The fifth monitor is used for general purpose computing, such as connecting to our local network and accessing records checks for field personnel. The sixth monitor on the phone station interfaces with both the 911 and business line phones. The 911 system incorporates the Automated Location Index (ALI) used to cross-reference the phone number of incoming 911 calls in order to determine the location of the caller. A recent upgrade allows call takers to track mobile phones in addition to the previous capability of tracking landline phones. The sixth monitor on the dispatch station is used for the Regional Communications System (RCS), which manages the multiple radio frequencies available to the department. RCS allows dispatchers to talk to all other police and fire departments in the area, as well as other city, county, state and federal mutual aid resources.
The Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system is used by the Communications Division to relay information to and from field personnel. Typically, call takers enter data from calls for service, dispatchers assign officers to the call and relay that information to them, and finally the details of the call’s progression as well as the disposition of the call are entered by the dispatcher. The CAD is inter-graded with the mobile computers in the department’s police cars, thus allowing this process to be handled electronically and providing a much larger flow of information than could be relayed verbally over the radio. CAD allows for electronic messaging between field personnel and dispatch, as well as car-to-car. Officers in the field may use the CAD to perform routine records checks. The CAD data also serves as a documented record of events for court purposes.
The Communications Center personnel receive professional training upon their hiring and on a continual basis throughout their careers. New employees go through a 120 hour P.O.S.T. certified dispatcher academy as well as a rigorous eight month in-house training program in order to develop the skills necessary to work in the Communications Center. All staff are trained in both call taking and radio dispatching, regardless of their regular assignment. All personnel receive at least 24 hours of ongoing training and education every two years on a variety of topics. Despite the tough P.O.S.T. requirements, Communications Division employees are committed to exceeding state requirements, often receiving additional training in domestic violence, hostage negotiation, SWAT operations, and customer service.