How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana

Hurricane Katrina caused major damage to emergency communications in Jefferson Parish.  While the system remained functional, channels for the sheriff’s office and the 911 center were reduced from thirty to just four, with both wind and flooding causing major damage to the system.

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In the aftermath of this hurricane, Jefferson Parish started planning for a new emergency operations center that could withstand hurricane force winds.  The current building went online in 2011 where emergency communications are now conducted at least 24 feet above sea level.

Two generators on the top floor, each hooked to a different power grid, can provide power to the center in the event of a blackout.  The building is fully self-sufficient and can house at least 125 people for fourteen days if there is a major emergency.  This is to prevent the situation in previous emergencies where there was no central physical location from which emergency workers could provide disaster relief.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to join the Sheriff’s Office to become a 911 dispatcher in Jefferson Parish:

Obtain the Necessary Education
Complete the Application Process in Jefferson Parish
Undergo On-the-Job Training

All 911 dispatchers in Jefferson Parish now work out of the new Emergency Operations and Communications Center, which has been recently redesigned to withstand 150 mph winds following the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.  The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is now in charge of all emergency dispatchers, who previously worked for a number of different agencies throughout the area.



Step 1.  Obtain the Necessary Education

The job requirements for a 911 operator only specify the need for a high school education.  Given the competition for these types of positions, you may want to consider getting a formal education in a field that will prepare you to be a skilled dispatcher.

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Many candidates for 911 operator jobs obtain associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in one of the following areas of study:

  • Criminal justice
  • Communications
  • Fire science
  • Emergency management

This type of training is available from schools in Louisiana or from one of the many online colleges that offer degrees in these fields.



Step 2.  Complete the Application Process in Jefferson Parish

You can download an application at the following website.  When you apply for a job with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, you must do so in person.  The office is on the first floor at 1233 Westbank Expressway in Harvey.  You should be prepared to provide proof of citizenship and age, among other things.

Since this is a law enforcement position, you should be prepared to go through a rigorous application process that includes the following steps:

  • Background check
  • Examination
  • Interview
  • Polygraph test
  • Physical examination and drug screen



Step 3.  Undergo On-the-Job Training

After you have been hired to be a 911 dispatcher in Jefferson Parish, you will be trained in the following aspects of your job:

  • How to answer calls and elicit the necessary information from the callers
  • How to dispatch the calls to the appropriate agencies
  • How to enter information into the computer while performing your other tasks
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In the past, separate dispatchers answered calls about law enforcement incidents, fires, and medical emergencies.  Since the call center has been revamped, all dispatchers are cross-trained to handle all of the different types of emergency calls.

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