How to Become a 911 Dispatcher in Erie County, New York

911 emergency services in Erie County are handled by the Erie County Central Police Services Division, an Administrative Criminal Justice Agency that was formed to provide support services to all of the law enforcement and emergency services agencies in Buffalo and the surrounding Erie County area.

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The services provided by the Central Police Services Division encompass a number of areas, including enhanced 911 and police radio communications, which provides support to the county’s 16 primary and 5 secondary 911 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs).

To become a 911 operator in Erie County, you must complete a number of steps:

Meet Minimum Requirements for Employment in Erie County
Apply to Take the Civil Service Examination
Take the Civil Service Examination and Performance Test
Complete the Pre-Employment Process and Undergo Training



Step 1. Meet Minimum Requirements for Employment in Erie County

Before applying for the Erie County Civil Service examination to become a 911 dispatcher, you must possess a high school diploma and at least 60 credit hours of college education. In addition, the position may also require the successful completion of a 12-month rotation as a Police Complaint Writer.

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Meeting the education requirement can be accomplished through an associate or bachelor’s degree in a number of emergency communications-related programs, such as:

  • Communications
  • Public Safety
  • Homeland Security
  • Emergency Communications



Step 2. Apply to Take the Civil Service Examination

All 911 operators in Erie County must complete an application to take the Civil Service examination. You may obtain an application by visiting the Erie County Department of Personnel’s website or in person at:

Erie County Personnel Department
Rath County Office Building
95 Franklin Street
Buffalo, NY 14202

You must include a $20 filing fee (made payable to the Erie County Personnel Department) with the application to take the exam.



Step 3. Take the Civil Service Examination and Performance Test

You must successfully pass the Erie County Civil Service Examination to be considered for the position of a 911 dispatcher. The Civil Service Examination will test your abilities in the following areas:

  • Understanding and Interpreting Written Material
  • Retaining and Comprehending Spoken Information from Calls for Emergency Services
  • Radio Operations and Dispatching Procedures
  • Following Directions (MAPS)
  • Coding/Decoding Information

The examination consists of three parts, which are all preceded by a separate practice session. You must also be able to enter data at a rate of at least 6,000 keystrokes per hour (which equates to about 20 wpm), and achieve an accuracy of at least 97.5 percent.



Step 4. Complete the Pre-Employment Process and Undergo Training

Chosen candidates for 911 dispatcher jobs must be able to pass a background investigation (which includes fingerprinting and a drug screen) and a medical examination.

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All new 911 dispatchers must complete an Emergency Services Dispatch Training Evaluation Program (ESDTEP) through the New York State Public Service Commission. The ESDTEP program includes 200 hours of training, which includes at least 40 hours of classroom training in an emergency dispatcher’s roles and responsibilities, legal aspects, and interpersonal communications, among other relevant topics.

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