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Recruitment and Retention of Telecommunications Officers

NCJ Number
Douglas L. Yearwood
Date Published
10 pages
This first in a series of four articles on recruitment and retention of personnel in North Carolina's public safety agencies focuses on telecommunications officers.
The analysis and recommendations stem from the findings of a 22-item survey administered to the staff of 130 randomly selected telecommunication centers in the State. A total of 119 surveys were returned (91.5-percent response rate). The most common barriers to the recruitment of more qualified applicants were reported to be agency budget restrictions, competition with other criminal justice agencies, specific duties associated with the job, and competition with the private sector. The most popular retention strategy was annual pay increases irrespective of job performance, educational incentives, the assignment of favorable work shifts, and formal award and recognition ceremonies. This report recommends a more aggressive and proactive recruitment strategy that educates the public and many law enforcement officers about the nature of telecommunications and the professional status held by workers in this field. Worker quality can be improved by tightening applicant screening with an emphasis on cognitive skills assessment and psychological testing. Given the low probability of increasing salaries across the State, the priority retention strategy recommended is the implementation of a greater number of inservice training programs that focus on stress and burnout within the profession. Another training recommendation is for more basic and inservice courses in telecommunications. Research on the effects of shift work on the telecommunicator position is also recommended, with attention to comparing and contrasting the 8-hour shift with the 12-hour shift. 2 tables and 3 figures