How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Topeka, Kansas

In Shawnee County, 911 calls are answered and dispatched by the Shawnee County Emergency Communications Center (SCECC).  Forty-five dispatchers answer about 102,000 calls a year and dispatch about 251,000 calls annually.  The SCECC fields calls for the following agencies:

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  • Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office
  • Topeka Fire and Police Departments
  • Auburn Fire and Police Departments
  • Dover Fire Department
  • Mission Fire Department
  • Rossville Fire and Police Departments
  • Silver Lake Fire and Police Departments
  • Soldier Fire Department

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to join these highly trained professionals and become a 911 dispatcher in Shawnee County:

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



Step 1.  Obtain the Necessary Education and Training

Although the job description only specifies having a high school education, having a broad range of knowledge of law enforcement and medical procedures helps in being an effective 911 dispatcher.

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Many candidates for 911 dispatcher positions obtain formal education in fields such as communications or criminal justice.  Another option is to obtain certification in providing emergency medical procedures.  You can obtain training in these areas by attending one of the many schools in Kansas that specialize in these areas, or by enrolling in an accredited online college.



Step 2.  Complete the Application Process

There are two ways to apply to apply to become a 911 emergency communications specialist for the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office.  You can either apply online or contact the county’s Human Resources department at 785-233-8200 X 4435.

The steps you will go through during the application process include the following:

  • A job-related test
  • A background check
  • A physical
  • A drug screen



Step 3.  Undergo on the Job Training

Once you have been selected to become a 911 operator for Shawnee County, you will be thoroughly trained in the following aspects of dispatching:

  • Taking 911 calls
  • Asking questions to elicit the pertinent information
  • Dispatching the calls to the appropriate law enforcement or fire agency
    • Using CAD (Computer-aided dispatch)

Six supervisors are available to provide training.

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Topeka has been a pioneer in providing emergency communications.  It was one of the first U.S. cities to install two-way radios in fire and police vehicles.  The SCECC systems have been routinely upgraded over the years.  In 1986, a computer-aided dispatch (CAD) was introduced.  This made the job of dispatching much easier and less error-prone.

In 2012, the county agreed to spend $12 million to buy a new digital communications system that allows virtually unbreakable encryption of the calls.  Much of the funding comes from a 911 tax assessed to cell phone users.

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