- Associated Press - Monday, June 6, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - The Honolulu Police Department wants to make it easier for people to become dispatchers.

The department said it has streamlined its application process in hopes that more people will apply and be hired as civilian police dispatchers to answer emergency and non-emergency 911 calls. The new process began May 15, reported The Honolulu Star-Advertiser (https://bit.ly/1Y37uAs).

The application process takes about six months, according to supervising police dispatcher Melodey Lewellen, and used to involve so much waiting that an applicant pool of several hundred dwindled to just four new hires last year. She believes it can be shortened to five months.

“We’re losing viable candidates because of the long process to go through,” said Lewellen. “We’re trying to reduce it.”

About 20 of the division’s 160 positions are vacant, and it is expecting a significant increase in open positions because about a dozen employees will soon be eligible for retirement.

Applicants will still be required to take a skills test and undergo a criminal background check, but the police force worked with the city’s Department of Human Resources to eliminate the civil service exam from the initial requirements.

The police department used to open an application window for a few days about twice a year, but dispatcher applications will now be accepted continuously. A skills test will be held when enough applications have been received.

Police radio dispatcher Ah Lan Leong says the job requires a lot of multitasking but can be rewarding work.

“You feel like you’re making a difference in someone’s life when they are in need of help,” she said. “Even if it’s just one person, it’s worth it for me.”

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, https://www.staradvertiser.com


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