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9-1-1 Communications center

911 Communications

A 9-1-1 Communications Center calltaker. Interested in a career with as a calltaker or dispatcher?

The Seattle Police 9-1-1 Center is the primary answering point for all police, fire, and medical emergencies within the city limits. Any calls for a fire or medical emergency are then transferred to the Fire Alarm Center.

The 9-1-1 Center is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Generally, the 9-1-1 Center receives between 800,000-870,000 calls for service a year; or over 2,000 calls per day.


In order to maximize efficiency and public service, the 9-1-1 Center operates under the Primary/Secondary concept of call receiving. A certain number of calltakers are assigned to the 9-1-1, or emergency, incoming lines. It is their responsibility to assess each call and make a rapid, accurate decision concerning its disposition.

These Primary calltakers work under an objective of averaging sixty seconds or less per call. If a call is not an emergency and cannot be handled in a reasonable length of time by the Primary operator, the call can be transferred to a Primary/Secondary operator. Primary/Secondary calltakers process requests for information, many non-emergency or routine complaints, and certain types of investigative reports.

Radio Dispatchers are assigned to handle police resources working in different geographic areas of the City. Their work is monitored and coordinated by the Chief Dispatcher.  Zone dispatchers are responsible for assigning calls, logging officers to on-view incidents such as traffic stops, providing support to numerous field units (detectives, parking enforcement), while remaining cognizant of any risks to officer safety. The Chief Dispatcher functions primarily in supervisory/supportive capacity by initially broadcasting emergency calls, coordinating emergency response between radio zones and contacting additional support units (SWAT, hostage negotiators).


Incoming emergency calls are assigned by an Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) among available Primary calltakers using Positron Power 9-1-1 workstations, thus distributing the workload of incoming calls fairly evenly among those assigned this function. Most of the Section's dispatching work is accomplished using a CAD (Computer-Aided Dispatch) system, with calltakers and dispatchers using computer terminals to rapidly record and transmit information. Patrol cars are equipped with an MDC (Mobile Data Computer). The resulting statistical data provides extensive capability for production of management reports and workload monitoring. All radio frequencies, telephone lines, and many of the intercom lines are recorded.

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Headquarters: 610 5th Avenue,
Seattle, WA 98124-4986
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