How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Polk County, Iowa

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office offers enhanced 911 services through the Sheriff Bob E. Rice Communications Center.  Its 911 dispatchers answer emergency calls and question the callers to figure out the appropriate emergency responder to send to the scene.

Sponsored Content

This step-by-step guide will show you how to become a 911 operator serving the law enforcement, fire and EMS needs of Polk County residents.

3 Steps to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Polk County:

Obtain the Necessary Education and Training
Complete the Application Process
Undergo On-the-Job Training and Obtain Certification



Step 1.  Obtain the Necessary Education and Training

While the only specific educational requirement is for a high school education, the job description for becoming a 911 operator in Polk County specifies the need to have a broad array of knowledge of law enforcement and medical procedures.

One way to obtain this type of knowledge is to get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or emergency medical services.  This type of training is available from a number of schools in Iowa and from accredited online schools.

Sponsored Content

With the fierce competition for positions as 911 dispatchers, having formal training can help applicants to be considered for these types of jobs.



Step 2.  Complete the Application Process

The first step to obtaining a job as a 911 dispatcher in Polk County is to monitor the county’s website for a position as a communications specialist.  You must apply online for positions with the county.

These are the steps to follow to submit your application:

  • Create an account
  • Select your username and password
  • Go to the “Build New Application” page
  • Click on the “Create Application link”
  • Fill out your application
  • Attach a resume if you have one
  • Submit your application

Once you have done this, you will receive an email notification that the department has received your application.

When your application is being considered, you will be notified to take a data entry test and a written examination.  After you have passed these, the department will conduct a background check on you that will include examining your background for drug arrests or convictions.  Once you have passed the background check, you will be screened for illegal drug use.



Step 3.  Undergo On-the-Job Training and Obtain Certification

After you have hired, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office will train you to handle calls appropriately and route them to the appropriate responders.  You will have to get certified in using the following information systems within six months of starting your job:

  • National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system
  • IOWA system

In addition, you will undergo forty hours of training at the IOWA Law Enforcement Academy by taking part in a BASIC Telecommunications program.  You must do this within a year of being hired.

Notable 911 Calls in Polk County

In 2011, a four year old boy in Polk County called 911 when his mother was unconscious.  The family had only been at their home for a couple weeks, and the boy did not know his address.   The 911 dispatcher spent 14 minutes on the phone with him and was able to guide the emergency responders to their location, thus saving the woman’s life.

Sponsored Content

A Des Moines man called 911 for 26 times one night in September 2013 to report a number of emergencies.  Police could find nothing wrong and arrested him for falsely claiming an emergency.

Back to Top