What Does a Highway Patrol Dispatcher Do? (with pictures)

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann
The highway patrol often works in tandem with other law enforcement agencies.
The highway patrol often works in tandem with other law enforcement agencies.

A highway patrol dispatcher does a wide variety of jobs, from dispatching patrol vehicles to required locations to monitoring the highway officers' status and positions. Perhaps one of the most important positions on the force, the highway patrol dispatcher is the eyes and ears of the patrol team as he or she performs the dangerous duties required of the job. Along with maintaining radio communication with every patrolman or woman on duty, the highway patrol dispatcher also keeps a written record of the calls, the officer sent and the times the officer arrived and departed the scene. If the dispatcher notices that a patrolman has called out at a scene but has not called back in within a reasonable amount of time, the dispatcher will attempt to contact the officer by radio and send a backup patrol, if necessary, to make sure the officer is safe.

Highway patrol dispatchers routinely check on an officer's position and status.
Highway patrol dispatchers routinely check on an officer's position and status.

The job of the highway patrol dispatcher is a complex and very critical component of the patrol force. Taking incoming calls, recognizing which patrol is closest to respond and dispatching that patrol to the scene requires extreme attention to detail and the ability to multitask. A good memory is required of the highway patrol dispatcher so that he or she might keep track of all patrols at all times. When a patrol calls out of service at any scene, the dispatcher will respond with a time that the officer will use as an official arrival time for his or her own duty log.

Dispatchers inform patrol officers of vehicle accidents.
Dispatchers inform patrol officers of vehicle accidents.

This time is also noted by the dispatcher and is written in a log or file. Every type of response has an approximate time that it should require. When this time is drawing near and the dispatcher has had no radio communication from the officer, the highway patrol dispatcher will attempt to reach the officer by radio. If no response or the wrong response is given, the dispatcher will realize that something has gone wrong and will immediately dispatch backup patrols to assist the original officer. This knowledge allows many patrol officers to do their duties with the reassurance they are not truly alone on any call.

Most people employed as a highway patrol dispatcher understand the importance of their job and approach the duty very seriously. This makes it much more difficult on the dispatcher in the unfortunate event that something goes wrong with a call resulting in injury or death to the patrol officer. A very strong bond often forms between the highway patrol dispatcher and those on patrol. The dispatcher is also tasked with remaining calm under a variety of stressful and tense situations in order to clearly communicate with fellow officers.

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    • The highway patrol often works in tandem with other law enforcement agencies.
      The highway patrol often works in tandem with other law enforcement agencies.
    • Highway patrol dispatchers routinely check on an officer's position and status.
      Highway patrol dispatchers routinely check on an officer's position and status.
    • Dispatchers inform patrol officers of vehicle accidents.
      Dispatchers inform patrol officers of vehicle accidents.