Webinar presenters Halcyon Frank answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Building Trust in 911. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: I want to start with a fantastic comment from Jennifer and she said “So true. Consistently shows fairness and also helps fellow dispatchers and trainees to know what to expect from field units and vice versa. Not being consistent makes the person enforcing the procedures just seem like the bad guy.”
Halcyon Frank: Yes, definitely agree with that.
Audience Question: Do you have recommendations on how I might guide a conflict avoiding dispatcher to have an honest conversation with the problem officer?
Halcyon Frank: That’s a good question. Conflict avoidant is kind of hard because that’s just who they are. I don’t know maybe there’s a way maybe if there are other people they trust that can help facilitate that with them. It may just be sitting them down and I don’t want to say forcing it but working through it or maybe finding a common ground for both of them that kind of start off a conversation and go from there. I don’t have a specific answer but I will say that once you can get that conversation going that will definitely make a good impact and then hopefully going forward that is not an issue that you’ll encounter again because maybe they can overcome some of that. It leads to having an open line of communication.
Audience Question: I always feel that if and when I don’t hold in frustration that I’m kind of whining about a situation or a problem that never ends up getting resolved. It could be the simplest thing but still is frustrating. How do you balance expressing valid issues with not being perceived as a whiner or a problem child?
Halcyon Frank: I think part of it is like you said you’re doing it a lot. I don’t want the things I have since good leaders have said if you have an issue, come to me with the issue as well as solution. I think it can be helpful if maybe you present it, “Here’s my frustration could we maybe try this? Is this something we could do to relieve it?” As well as kind of picking your battles. There are going to be times where we bump heads and you got to just kind of work through that. I think if you are able to present a solution as well, that can go a long way with your leadership of, “Hey, I’m frustrated about this but here’s how I think maybe we can work through it”, and with it kind of makes it easier for them because now instead of you bringing them a problem and they are kind of like, “Well we need to figure out a solution.” They’re like “Well, yeah there’s your solution, go ahead.” It takes the responsibility off of them and that can be kind of helpful.
Audience Question: I know you recommended that dispatchers go on ride-along with officers. How often do you recommend that they do this? Should it be on a regular basis? Is it primarily at the beginning of their career as a dispatcher? Could you provide a little bit more guidance on that?
Halcyon Frank: I think that ride alongs especially if you go with a lot of different people can be beneficial as much as you are able to do them especially if it helps them to know the people in the field. When they are new I think they are especially important for two reasons. One, a lot of times on this ride-along they are going to see the geography of the district or the jurisdiction or whatever it is you are working with. Someone new who maybe didn’t live there or someone who doesn’t get out much I guess, that’s going to give them that exposure. As well as a new person, if they are running through a couple of traffic stops, they can see the dynamics and how that works so they’ll make it back to the other side of the radio like I said they kind of know when they are probably out of their car versus when they are back in it. As much as you can do and people can experience, it doesn’t hurt anything. So definitely in the beginning and then ongoing are great. Like I said if you can get them ongoing with different people that will help forge a lot of connections as well.
Audience Question: What if your agency doesn’t want you to deal with the situation yourself? They only go to the supervisor. How would we be able to talk to our officers after? She feels that this is a problem and the problem might be resolved but there would be tension and maybe trust issues.
Halcyon Frank: That’s a good question. I think I’ve gotten somewhere once before you know the agency if there is. If your agency maybe has a messaging system where you can just reach out and just shoot them a message, that way I know sometimes they do want you, they do want you to go through a supervisor, I don’t want to say to be important, don’t. Definitely look at ways that maybe you can voice out to the supervisor and voice out to the person as well. I know I’ve had times where stuff has gone up because it has to be dealt with you know from the supervisor or higher level but you also have the chance to communicate with that person directly as well. If it’s a thing of worry of a messaging system or if you know them personally you can maybe reach out through a text message or whatever. Definitely, you still want to maintain some of those professional boundaries. If you can have a conversation with them even if it has to get summed up I think that’s helpful because there are going to be times where stuff has to get set up because of what it is. But it doesn’t mean you can have a conversation with them necessarily if you have a way to do that.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Building Trust in 911.