9-1-1 — Vital and Complex

James Pendley, Assistant Chief, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office

I started my career with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in 1993 as an emergency communications officer. I worked my way through call taking, dispatch, investigative, NCIC, and I finished as a dispatch supervisor in 1998 when I then transferred to become a patrol officer. In 2015, I was promoted as an Assistant Chief and the Sheriff assigned me as the commanding officer of the Communications Center. Full circle! It has been interesting to see this job from starting as a dispatcher to my view as an administrator. I am impressed everyday by the commitment and true life saving efforts of 911 dispatchers, accomplished in some tough working conditions — long hours, varying levels of technology, training, and appreciation across the country. I have also had a steep learning curve about the backbone of 911 technology and all of the related issues as our agency works through a CAD upgrade and a goal of combining police and fire dispatch operations. Daunting!

But these challenges are great experience for a master’s program I am involved in. The study of 911 systems and resiliency have been very helpful to me. As part of that work, I am involved with a team who wrote a great story about 911 access in an emergency and how to prepare in times of technology failure or disaster. I would like to share that now and I have also shared http://www.npstw.org on the story itself so we can continue to promote appreciation for all public safety telecommunicators. Please take care of yourself out there and keep up the good work!