How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Oahu, Hawaii

Being responsible for answering all 911 emergency calls for the entire island of Oahu is no small task, though that is exactly what the dispatch team with the Honolulu Police Department’s Communications Division does 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In a recent year emergency dispatchers in Oahu answered 900,345 calls for service including:

  • 668,814 calls for the police department
  • 51,724 calls for the fire department
  • 72,923 calls for emergency services
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As the initial police dispatcher who answers the 911 line you must be calm, because in this line of work seconds can save lives. The Honolulu Fire Department and Honolulu Emergency Medical Services Department use their own dispatchers.  911 dispatchers with the police department and fire department work closely together, transferring calls and coordinating joint department dispatches.

The following step-by-step instructions will assist you in learning about how to become a 911 operator in Oahu:

Increase Your Qualifications
Apply with the City of Honolulu
New Hire Training
Expand Your Career Options



Step 1. Increase Your Qualifications

In addition to related experience and 911 operator training, another way of improving your initial application is to earn an emergency dispatch-related college degree. With over half-a-dozen colleges in Honolulu plus online educational opportunities you will be able to find an associate or bachelor degree relevant to 911 dispatcher jobs in Oahu, including:

  • Law Enforcement, including a focus on law enforcement communication and operations
  • Psychology, with courses on substance abuse, behavioral disorders, and stress management
  • Communications, to include courses in listening as well as conflict resolution and management
  • Homeland Security, with instruction in terrorism threats, management principles, and special target hazard planning
  • Emergency Management, with courses detailing integrated emergency management plus disaster operations and recovery



Step 2. Apply with the City of Honolulu

Once you are ready to apply for 911 dispatcher jobs in Oahu you can check Honolulu’s online employment vacancy postings.

Apply through the city’s human resources department when there are openings for Police Radio Dispatcher I – your official job title. You will submit the application through the vacancy posting, and to be alerted of these you can complete a job notification card.

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Your application will be screened and if it meets the minimum requirements the human resources department will send you an email with scheduling information for a written test. This will cover basic reading and writing skills in a multiple-choice format, and upon passing this you will be ranked on an eligibility list according to your score. This list will be valid for at least one year, and you will next be scheduled for the police segment of your hiring which includes:

  • Orientation
  • Personal History Statement- an extensive questionnaire into your background
  • Clarification interview with a detective
  • Pre-hire written psychological exam
  • Post-hire written psychological exam
  • Psychological interview
  • Polygraph exam
  • Medical exam
  • Drug test



Step 3. New Hire Training

As a new-hire with the Honolulu Police Department you will receive up to one year of classroom education combined with on-the-job training. Skills and experience in any of the following is a plus and something you can always improve on:

  • Multitasking
  • Familiarity with the roads and highways on Oahu, plus how to pronounce them
  • Typing, including numbers
  • Good memory
  • Police academy training
  • Keeping a level, rational thought process in stressful situations

If you are interested in becoming a dispatcher at the Honolulu Fire Department’s Fire Communications Center or at the City and County of Honolulu Emergency Medical Services Communication Center you can also consider obtaining relevant training and education before hire and follow the steps in this guide. As a dispatcher at either of these agencies you will receive pre-screened calls from a dispatcher at the Honolulu Police Department’s Communications Division. However to be an emergency operator with either the fire or medical services requires the following:

  • Dispatchers with the Honolulu Fire Department must be at least Level II Firefighters
  • Dispatchers with the Honolulu Emergency Medical Services must have at least two years of experience as Emergency Medical Technicians


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Step 4. Expand Your Career Options

As you gain experience working for the Honolulu Police Department’s Communications Division, consider how to improve your skills and abilities as an emergency dispatcher. This will help to maintain your professionalism and lay claim to future career advancement opportunities. Some local resources where you can find relevant training and education for your career include:

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