For many years, to become a dispatcher with 911 in Albany, you had to be a resident of the city. There have been many that have combated this law, and it might soon change. The Albany Police Officer’s Union is leading the charge to make sure that those that don’t live in Albany can still work with the dispatch unit.
Gregory McGee is the leader of the union. He said that on some nights, there are only a couple of people working on the dispatch team and that they were working up to 16 hours in a single day. “Which left them with just one person to work the police radio, one person to work the fire radio and only one person to answer our 911 calls for the city of Albany,” McGee said of their slow night recently.
If the handful of dispatchers are busy with calls, emergency calls will be sent to the next town over. McGee hopes that more help can be added, as they’re currently understaffed by nearly a dozen people. “We had applicants who were actually qualified who applied, who had dispatch experience but because they live outside the city we can’t hire them,” he said.
Because of the understaffing, many Albany residents have had their calls rerouted or not responded to at all. “The police administration and the Albany Police Officer’s Union have been working collaboratively to address concerns regarding staffing at the communications center,” said public information officer Steve Smith. “The department has recently hired dispatchers and there is a plan in place to fully staff the center over the next few months. The administration commends our dispatchers for their continued dedication and thanks them for all their hard work.”