How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Grand Rapids, Michigan

911 dispatch services in Grand Rapids operate under the auspices of the Grand Rapids Police Department.  911 operators in this department answer more than 143,000 911 calls for fire, police, and medical services each year.  In addition to dispatching for Grand Rapids agencies, the call center dispatches medical and fire services for five surrounding fire departments.

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Follow this guide to learn what it takes to join these proud professionals and become a 911 dispatcher in Grand Rapids, Michigan:

Consider a Relevant Education
Complete the Grand Rapids Application Process
Undergo Classroom and One on One Training



Step 1. Consider a Relevant Education

Emergency communications operator jobs for the city of Grand Rapids specifies having a high school education and experience operating computer terminals and/or two way radios.  An equivalent amount of experience and training can substitute for this.

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You may face a lot of competition when you apply for 911 dispatcher jobs in Grand Rapids.  In the past, there were 570 people applying for five positions.  One way to distinguish yourself from this level of competition is to obtain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a field that is related to the profession of dispatching.  This can include the following types of degrees:

  • Fire science
  • Police science
  • Criminal justice
  • Communications
  • Emergency medical services

You can obtain these types of training from online institutions or colleges located within Michigan.



Step 2. Complete the Grand Rapids Application Process

The Department of Human Resources has instructions on how to apply for 911 dispatcher jobs in Grand Rapids.  You will have to wait until emergency communications operator positions are available, but you can fill out a job interest card so as to be notified when such jobs are available.

All of the communication about this position will be done by email, so make sure that your email address is current on your account profile.

The application process is thorough and involves a number of tests.  These are listed below along with their weight on the exam:

  • Written examination – 30%
  • Performance examination – 40%
  • Oral examination – 30%

In addition, you will have to pass the following steps before you can be hired:

  • Test of dictation and typing skills
  • Interview
  • Background check
  • Medical evaluation



Step 3.  Undergo Classroom and One on One Training

Once you have been hired with the Grand Rapids PD emergency dispatch, you will be trained in a classroom for six weeks.  After that, you will have at least 12 weeks of individual training conducted by a Communications Training Officer under the supervision of a Communications Supervisor.

Once you have been trained, you will work mostly on your own under general supervision.  You will be expected to recognize situations that require you to seek assistance from other personnel.

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Both the Grand Rapids and Kent County 911 centers will be getting new, high-tech equipment that should improve the efficiency of their operations.  The SwitchPlusIP® system will enable each call center to function independently in case of an emergency.  A fiber link will connect the two call centers.  This enables access to the radio systems of each agency.

This equipment will allow a 911 operator to use a single headset and user interface to access multiple radios, telephone calls, and types of communication between the sites.  Its backup design enables the system to keep working in severe weather that could eliminate radio sites or systems.

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