This is the first of several installments to be written by two of SacPD’s Dispatcher Recruits who are currently going through the Sacramento Police Department’s challenging 10-week Dispatcher Academy. They began the Academy on March 5 and will graduate May 11.
Hello. My name is Jenna McCoy and I am a Dispatcher Recruit for the Sacramento Police Department. I am attending a 10-week academy with six other recruits. I first became interested in being a dispatcher when I was in the process of becoming an Emergency Medical Technician. I did a 10-hour ride-along with the Sacramento Metro Fire Department. I didn’t realize how uncomfortable I was with people I didn’t know until I had to take their blood pressure and listen for breath sounds. Fortunately, the three patients that we picked up that day had minor injuries or ailments. The revelation I had was that I wanted to be a part of the public safety team without actually being on scene.
I applied with the Sacramento Police Department in March of 2006. . I researched other agencies in our area and decided that to be the best, I needed to be trained by the best. I took the written P.O.S.T. Dispatcher Test in July of the same year. Since there is such a shortage of Dispatchers, the interview came shortly after I received my test results. I then went to Background Investigations. From beginning to end, the process was about 5 months. In December of 2006, I left my job as a Records Coordinator for a Labor and Employment Law Firm. Life as I knew it was over and I entered a new world.
The first day of the academy was almost unreal. I met some wonderful people that I have come to know very well in the last 3 weeks. It seemed like every other sentence was, “Don’t do that or you’ll be released for not meeting expectations.” Not only did we get a new job, we have to score above average in order to make to graduation. The pressure is intense. The information is over flowing. The instructors are second to none. I know that I made the right decision.
I have been married now for almost eight years and I have 2 children, ages 10 and 6. For the most part, I have been the parent to get everyone up and ready for school and then take them to school. It just worked out that it was easier for me to do it. My husband has now taken on the role of getting everyone where they need to be on top of working late into the evenings because he gets to work later these days. All of this so that I can be at work by 7:15 a.m. and ready to learn. My children quiz me on Type Codes and Priorities on a daily basis. My six year old makes her own flash cards while I make mine. I am putting my entire family on this roller coaster ride of pressure and unrest. I know that in the end it will all be worth it.
We are currently in week 4 and attending P.O.S.T with dispatchers from other agencies. It is interesting to hear how the training that we are receiving is so much more intense than the other agencies. I have met some wonderful people and am learning so much. I am having the time of my life and am so grateful to be a part of this.