How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Denver, Colorado

All 911 calls in the city of Denver are directed to the Department of Public Safety’s Communications Center which is staffed by highly trained dispatchers who relay critical information from callers to police, fire or medical first responders. The 911 operations headquarters house 911 operators, 911 dispatchers, fire dispatchers and health paramedic dispatchers. All 911 calls are first screened to determine if the call is a police, fire, or medical emergency, or if it’s not a real emergency at all.

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The center receives both 911 and 720-913-2000 calls which are requests for help with non-emergencies like burglaries or auto thefts no longer in progress, non-life threatening medical situations or parking/noise complaints.

You need to take the following steps to become a 911 operator/dispatcher in Denver:

Prepare for a Job in Denver
Complete Denver’s Application and Hiring Process
Fulfill Training Requirements and Begin Work in Denver
Participate in Continuing Education



Step 1. Prepare for a Job in Denver

Although a high school diploma or its equivalent will fulfill the educational requirement for Denver 911 operator jobs, you will enjoy a distinct advantage if you pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as criminal justice, homeland security or public safety. There are almost 30 institutions of higher education in Denver, including a broad assortment of public and private two- and four-year colleges/universities.

Denver 911 operators receive emergency calls and also perform data retrieval work.

Mile High City 911 dispatchers operate and monitor communications equipment and work closely with fire and medical dispatchers. They enter caller data into a computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system and relay information to first responders via direct radio equipment. The 911 dispatchers are also responsible for computer clearances and information searches for police officers/detectives using systems like the National and Colorado Crime Information Systems and city/county court files.

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Since the 911 Communication Center is fully functioning 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, dispatchers must be willing to work weekends, holidays, shifts and overtime on short notice. Previous experience as a 911dispatcher or agent is highly desirable but not required. However, you must have two years experience in a public contact job that involved dealing with individual problems and applying policies, procedures and/or legal guidelines. Other requirements include:

  • One year or more computer user experience in a Microsoft Windows or comparable setting.
  • Must be detail oriented, flexible, and able to multi-task
  • Possess excellent listening and problem-solving skills
  • No criminal history



Step 2. Complete Denver’s Application and Hiring Process

A list of open job opportunities and online application forms are available from the City of Denver Human Resources Department. You can also telephone the Department of Public Safety at 720-913-2004 to discuss career opportunities. If your application is accepted, you will be scheduled for the following evaluation measures:

  • Background investigation conducted by the Denver Police Department
  • CritiCall Tele-Communicator Testing System*

*CritiCall is a computer pre-employment personality test that uses a variety of assessment tools to evaluate whether or not candidates have the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to work in the high-stress, multi-tasking environment of a public safety dispatcher.



Step 3. Fulfill Training Requirements and Begin Work in Denver

911 operators and dispatchers must attend an eight-week class that focuses on subjects like Policies/Procedures, Critical Incident Management and Technical Aspects of 911 Operation. All new operators and dispatches will spend 12 weeks working alongside a trainer following the eight-week class.

Public safety operator/dispatchers in Denver earn an average annual salary of $37,000 which is nine percent lower than the national average.



Step 4. Participate in Continuing Education

Career Service Authority rules mandate that continuing education is a critical component of all 911 operators/dispatchers. There are ample opportunities in Denver to attend classes in such career-enhancing topics as Crisis Intervention, Team Training, Homeland Security Training, etc.

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The Denver Department of Public Safety has a partnership with a civilian peer support group that offers 911 dispatchers stress management training as well as one-on-one grief counseling or help dealing with such things as critical-incident stress or “burn-out.”

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