Low Staffing Prompts Mandatory Overtime for San Jose Emergency Dispatchers

Emergency dispatchers in San Jose are working mandatory overtime due to low staffing in the police communications department.

San Jose Police Deputy Chief Jeff Marozick said the entire communications department is understaffed by 21 percent. The union said its team of dispatchers is understaffed by 30 percent.

"Probably the worst we've seen it," dispatcher Jennifer Hern said of the current staffing level. "It's pretty tense. We have a lot of overtime to work."

Marozick said the department is asking dispatchers to work 36 hours of mandatory overtime a month.

"We don't think it's an ideal situation to be understaffed and require staff to work overtime," he said.

The extra hours are impacting dispatchers, who said the low staffing is causing delays.

"It's a struggle," Hern said. "It's hard to do that for 13 hours a day, and much less knowing you have to go home and take care of everything at home, then come back and do it again."

Meanwhile, a new crop of San Jose dispatchers graduated on Thursday. There were more than 900 dispatcher applicants, but only three graduated.

"I would like to have more," Mayor Chuck Reed said. "We had 900 who were interested, but not everybody is qualified. We have very high standards."

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