OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – News 6 has learned that almost every Central Florida county is looking to hire 911 dispatchers. Some, in fact, are offering incentives in the form of sign-on bonuses to recruit and retain more emergency operators.
News 6 got a look inside one of Osceola County’s 911 centers Thursday.
The sheriff said there’s a desperate need to hire more dispatchers. At last check, there were 23 open positions.
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“We definitely need more dispatchers. We’re offering a $3,000 incentive sign-on,” Sheriff Marcos Lopez said.
The sign-on bonus requires a 2-year commitment, but it’s one the sheriff hopes will recruit more applicants for a job he said can take a mental toll on people.
“It’s a very tough department to work in. It’s a lot of stressful situations,” said Lopez, speaking from firsthand experience. “You might handle 35-40 calls a day. ‘My son’s being stabbed, the babies (are) drowning.’”
Sheriff Lopez said they’re working to fill the center’s void while also better connecting with residents.
“We hired four translators, (or) call takers, to help compensate with the high call volume of Spanish speaking people who call,” Lopez said.
And we’re seeing this demand for dispatchers nationwide, including right here in Central Florida, with other agencies also offering incentives.
For example, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said it is looking for about 46 dispatchers and they’re offering a sign-on bonus of $2,000. In fact, they just added a “specialty pay” stipend for all dispatchers to help with retainment. The sheriff’s office said newly certified dispatchers will get a $1,000 annually.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said it’s offering up to a $5,000 sign-on bonus for their 11 vacancies for experienced dispatchers, though it also requires a 3-year commitment.
The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office said it has eight dispatcher openings and they’re offering a $2,500 sign-on bonus.
Meanwhile, the sheriff’s offices in Marion, Sumter and Volusia counties have eight, three and 43 openings, respectively.