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Security adds new employment positions, hires six student dispatchers

This fall, Security Services hired six student dispatchers. The student position is new to the office, which had previously consisted exclusively of professional staff.

“We are excited about this opportunity for students to work with security as dispatchers,” said John Bermel, Director of Security and Emergency Management. “This is important work and a solid opportunity for students to use their skills and interests to contribute to the Carleton community.”

Blake Held, Assistant Director of Security Services and Emergency Management, supervises the student dispatcher program. Security Officer Lola Gavere manages the student dispatchers, and is their primary point person for operational questions.

The student dispatchers work from an office at 420 Hoppin House, which houses Security Services. The job’s primary responsibilities include answering incoming security calls, relaying incident information to security officers, and writing or supplementing incident reports, said Bermel.

“Dispatch is a critical link in the delivery of Security Services,” said Bermel. “This position is responsible for receiving and prioritizing Carleton College Security Services requests for service in person and by phone and for notifying appropriate personnel, in a manner consistent with the mission and goals of the College and Security Services.”

“Student dispatchers allow Security to maintain more contact with callers, while at the same time freeing up officers to move quickly and respond to events without also having to answer calls,” explained Student Dispatcher James Craig ’21. When no students are working in the dispatch office, security officers take incoming calls.

“Student dispatchers work during a period that commonly has high call volume,” said Bermel. “Having the student dispatchers answering calls allows security officers to handle duties without interruption. The dispatchers are a security team multiplier.”

Student dispatchers do not enforce policy nor resolve issues. “In some ways we act like a filter for the Security Services staff, by summarizing information they need on one hand, while keeping callers informed and up-to-date on the other,” said Craig.

Student dispatchers are not responsible for enforcement or conflict resolution among peers, noted Craig. “I can reference rules and regulations for students if needed, but this role doesn’t involve that kind of responsibility. We might be able to provide some answers to rule-related questions, but anything serious is passed on to security staff,” said Craig.

Craig learned about the open position via a flyer he saw on campus during New Student Week. “I have a background in radio operations and emergency services, so I felt that I would be useful in this role,” said Craig. “It’s a unique way to help out around campus, as well as an insight into a side of Carleton most students don’t interact with often.”

“I was interested in working in this role because I have always had some amount of curiosity regarding what it was like to work in a security department,” said student dispatcher Jordan Navarro ’22. “I have never been in a role like this before.”

Each student dispatcher underwent training with Gavere before starting in the role, said Bermel. Gavere continues to meet with students for ongoing training.

The training included learning how to pick up calls, how to use the radio to communicate with officers, the call-logging and incident-reporting processes, and various Security codes used to keep communication concise, explained student dispatcher Yucheng Yang ’22.

“We want the student dispatchers to be comfortable and capable in their position and we train for that standard,” said Bermel. Additionally, Security Officers are available as a resource for student dispatchers at all times.

“The job requires proficiency at phone and radio communication, which in my opinion requires real-world practice to really master,” said Craig. “The Security staff are very good at providing pointers, resources, and an initial orientation, and after that it’s time to start taking calls.”

For Craig, the hardest part of the dispatcher job is handling numerous situations at once. “There have been a few instances where multiple incidents occur in a short period of time,” he said. “I’ve had to juggle conversations with officers and the individuals involved, in addition to the police, while trying to determine what priority these issues should have over each other. It’s a lot of fun, but when medical or safety issues get mixed in, the stakes go up and it’s important to keep a clear head.”

“Knowing that I can improve multiple-incident situations is very rewarding,” said Craig. “It’s always good to know you personally helped out with anything from a parking ticket or a locked building to an urgent medical incident.”

“Being able to help those in need on time is the most satisfactory part of this job,” said Yang. “Knowing that people are relying on your means you have to take on responsibility and be there for them, which sometimes is stressful, but rewarding.”

The Security office hopes to expand the program to cover breaks in the academic year, said Bermel. For now, student dispatchers are slated to work only during the academic terms.

Bermel also hopes to see the hours per day of student dispatcher coverage expand in the future. “We would like to see the student dispatcher role continue and evolve to best meet the needs of the Carleton community,” said Bermel. “The student dispatchers will be a key source of input for how that will look.”The office is currently looking to hire a seventh student dispatcher, said Bermel.

“Criteria for student dispatcher employment includes a demonstrated interest in campus security and contributing to the welfare of the community, along with basic communication skills,” said Bermel. The office is looking for Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors to fill the role, “because they have the strongest working knowledge of the campus,” he said.

The job application can be found on Carleton’s Student Employment website. “This is a great opportunity for students to contribute to the community,” said Bermel.

“I initially thought this job would be stressful, but it’s turned out to be a lot of fun,” said Craig. “I recommend this job to other students, as long as they are confident in their ability to keep a level head and communicate well.”

The office is currently looking to hire a seventh student dispatcher, said Bermel.

“Criteria for student dispatcher employment includes a demonstrated interest in campus security and contributing to the welfare of the community, along with basic communication skills,” said Bermel. The office is looking for Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors to fill the role, “because they have the strongest working knowledge of the campus,” he said.

The job application can be found on Carleton’s Student Employment website. “This is a great opportunity for students to contribute to the community,” said Bermel.

“I initially thought this job would be stressful, but it’s turned out to be a lot of fun,” said Craig. “I recommend this job to other students, as long as they are confident in their ability to keep a level head and communicate well.”

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