Q: April 10 – 16 was National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. Can you spotlight these workers in the sheriff’s office?
A: We have approximately 60 staff members, including supervisors and managers in our Emergency Communications Center. Also known as 911 call dispatchers, in addition to serving the public, these men and women are the eyes and ears of the SJSO and watch over the men and women in our agency who wear the uniform.

The public safety telecommunicators provide services not just to the more than 292,000 residents of St. Johns County, but also to the 6 million or so visitors we have each year. For instance, Interstate 95 that runs through St. Johns County sees 100,000 cars per day and any 911 calls from there would be routed to our dispatchers in St. Johns County. These public safety telecommunicators cover the same territory as our deputies.

Q: Can you describe more about the types and numbers of calls they receive?
A: In 2021, we had 400,000 calls for service, of which 115,981 were 911 calls. At our Emergency Communications and Training Center building, which houses our call center, we are the official call takers for not only our agency, but also for St. Johns County Fire and Rescue, the St. Augustine Beach Police Department, the National Parks Service, and as of this year, the St. Augustine Police Department. 

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For SJSO, the men and women of the St. Johns County Telecommunications Center don’t just monitor our deputies on the road. They also monitor our marine unit, the aviation unit, and the deputies that are in the 46 schools in the county. We can provide mutual aid to touching counties through our 911 calls and can patch calls through to their public safety telecommunicators and work the call together if necessary. They also monitor the live feed from our helicopters, drones, and the traffic cameras throughout St. Johns County in addition to monitoring official weather notices. 

St. Johns County is divided into five regions in our Emergency Communications Center. The North Region includes calls from the Duval County line to the World Golf Village/Palencia area; Central includes south of World Golf Village to the City of St. Augustine and West Augustine; and South is from the city to the Flagler County line. The other two regions are St. Augustine City/St. Augustine Beach/the National Park Service Police and finally the National Crime Information Center/Florida Crime Information Center. This final channel is for monitoring warrants, vehicle tags and be on the lookout calls, usually for other jurisdictions. Our men and women of the St. Johns County Telecommunications Center are responsible for many things! We call them “Heroes in Headsets.”

Q: Do you have positions available?
A: We are currently hiring public safety telecommunicators and if anyone is interested, they can find out all the specific requirements at www.sjso.org. Starting pay is approximately $41,000, but it is my intention to increase that soon to $45,000. The job does involve shift work. Other requirements are patience, attention to detail, the ability to multitask, and a true commitment to serve our community and provide first class customer service.

Q: What is the best way for our readers to contact you with any questions or suggestions about this article?

A: They can email me at sheriff@sjso.org or call me at (904) 824-8304. Also, our website, www.sjso.org has a wealth of resources, from alarm registration to Crime Stoppers to our Neighbors app.

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