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Summit County Sheriff's Office still needs dispatchers to be fully staffed

Police Dispatch
Mike Groll/AP
/
AP
Communications officer Michael Ryan works in the 911 dispatch center at the Rensselaer County Public Safety Building in Troy, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

For the first time in a while, the Summit County jail is fully staffed and the prospects for a full patrol are looking good, but a handful of dispatcher ares till needed

With a budget increase for the department this year, Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez has had better luck filling the open positions in the jail and finding several candidates for patrol deputies. But he’s still struggling to find help in the dispatch center.

“I'm actively looking to get people that want to work in a dispatch center to take those calls, and get deputies and firefighters dispatched to those scenes, so that is a big focus, ” Martinez said. “And we probably need -- we're down about six employees in the dispatch center. We do have the ability if we can, like if an employee recommends somebody, we have bonuses. We're just trying to think outside the box and how we can recruit and retain new employees.

Dispatchers hold civilian positions – they do not have to go through the police academy and can be hired as young as 19 years old.

Martinez admits it’s a stressful job, made even more stressful because they’re short six dispatchers, which requires the others to fill in with overtime.

They still work the 24/7 ,they work the weekends, the holidays,” he said. “It takes a very special person to take those calls, maintain calm, but they are part of the team that really makes this whole operation work.”

While he still has four deputy patrol jobs open, he’s optimistic those will be easily filled given the number of applicants he’s working through.

“We've got a pipeline of about, say, eight to 10 individuals that were going through the battery of psychological backgrounds, polygraphs, and I do anticipate having those positions filled, hopefully within the next two months,” Martinez said. “So, I think overall, my situation compared to other chiefs and sheriffs is quite favorable as far as my hiring, what we've been able to do and how we've been able to recruit individuals. Very happy with that. Very proud of that.”

Based on conversations with the state’s other sheriffs, Martinez says he believes the Summit County jail is the only jail in Utah that is fully staffed. Open positions for a corrections officer and a jail nurse have both been filled.

The Summit County Council approved a new pay plan for this year that gets Sheriff’s office employees to the top of their salary windows within eight years. The council also approved a wage increase for those on the force in order to remain competitive with other agencies and also instituted a new hiring bonus program.