Florence dispatchers train for anything, including hostage negotiations

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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) - It’s a job which changes by the second, and they’re part of the public’s first line of defense when things go bad.

9-1-1 dispatchers may have one of the most stressful jobs around, and it takes constant training to deal with just about anything.

Inside a darkened room in the basement of the Florence Police Department, dispatchers spend 12-hours behind their computer terminals waiting for the next call.

“You never know what you are going to pick up when you answer the phone,” explained Jessica Minor, the Communication Training Coordinator for Florence police Department.

Whether it’s an alarm call or a fight in progress, dispatchers have to rely on training to help navigate the situation.

With ten years behind a dispatch desk, Minor knows all too well how important training can be.

“The officers go to training all the time and I think it’s good for us to know what they are training on so we can better serve them,” stated Minor. “We have to get all the information that we can before they arrive on the scene so they know what they are getting into.”

A group of dispatchers just returned from hostage negotiations training in Clanton.

It’s one of the most delicate calls a dispatcher may face during their career. Minor said it’s important to stay calm when dealing with someone who might be unstable.

“I personally have not had a hostage call, but if I’ve developed the rapport with the caller they are going to want to probably keep me on the phone until the situation is resolved,” Minor said.

And through training, Minor said, it’s the goal of a dispatcher to make sure everyone goes home after their shift.

Florence Police Department allocates budgeted funds each year for continued education for dispatchers.

Department officials said they also take advantage of online training to learn more about the latest dispatching techniques.