New Philadelphia 911 dispatchers graduated; department still needs more workers

The Philadelphia Police Department graduated 32 new 911 dispatchers Friday, easing its shortage in the vital position, but the department needs still more workers.

On a wall in the dispatch room, the number of calls waiting are tallied and the waiting time is counted. Police leaders say their goal is to pick up a 9-1-1 call within 10 seconds and do that 90 percent of the time.

But, shortages in the dispatch room have resulted in some police delays.


According to numbers obtained by FOX 29, last year, of the more than 2.4 million calls, more than 7,000 callers waited at least a minute-and-a-half for someone to pick-up, likely slowing police response.

The police department is budgeted for 352 dispatchers. The 32 graduates will take the number to 289. Police say they offer overtime on nearly every shift to make sure calls are answered.

Kassidy Serrano brought her 4-year-old daughter to the ceremony. Her grandfather shouted ’That’s our special K,’ when she was called up to receive her certificate. She told FOX 29 she was up for the job. "It’s tough, but you got to remain positive and know you can do it. Anyone can do it, as long as you remain positive."

The new dispatchers will start Monday and earn about $40,000 a year.

Anyone interested in applying for a 911 dispatch position can find information on the city's website, here.