University of California Santa Cruz Police Department
UC Santa Cruz PD Policy Manual



The Dispatch Center


This policy establishes guidelines for the basic functions of the Dispatch Center. It addresses the immediate information needs of the Department in the course of its normal daily activities and during emergencies.


802.2     POLICY

It is the policy of the University of California Santa Cruz Police Department to provide 24-     hour telephone service to the public for information and for routine or emergency assistance. The Department provides two-way radio capability providing continuous communication between the Dispatch Center and department members in the field.



The communications function is vital and central to all emergency service operations. The safety and security of the Dispatch Center, its members and its equipment must be a high priority. Special security procedures should be established in a separate operations manual for the Dispatch Center. These procedures will be in compliance with DOJ, FBI and CJIS rules and regulations.

Access to the Dispatch Center shall be limited to the Dispatch Center members, the Shift Supervisor, command staff and department members with a specific business-related purpose.




The Chief of Police shall appoint and delegate certain responsibilities to a Communications Manager. The Communications Manager is directly responsible to the Patrol Division Commander or the authorized designee.

The responsibilities of the Communications Manager include, but are not limited to:

 (a) Overseeing the efficient and effective operation of the Dispatch Center in coordination with other supervisors.

 (b) Scheduling and maintaining dispatcher time records.

 (c) Supervising, training and evaluating dispatchers.

 (d) Ensuring the radio and telephone recording system is operational.

  1. Recordings shall be maintained in accordance with the established records retention schedule and as required by law.

 (e) Processing requests for copies of the Dispatch Center information for release.

 (f) Maintaining the Dispatch Center database systems.

 (g) Maintaining and updating the Dispatch Center procedures manual. 

  1. Procedures for specific types of crime reports may be necessary. For example, specific questions and instructions may be necessary when talking with a victim of a sexual assault to ensure that his/her health and safety needs are met, as well as steps that he/she may take to preserve evidence.
  2. Ensuring dispatcher compliance with established policies and procedures.

 (h) Handling internal and external inquiries regarding services provided and accepting personnel complaints in accordance with the Personnel Complaints Policy.

 (i) Maintaining a current contact list of University of California personnel to be notified in the event of a utility service emergency.



The Communications Manager should establish procedures for:

 (a) Recording all telephone and radio communications and playback issues.

 (b) Storage and retention of recordings.

 (c) Security of audio recordings (e.g., passwords, limited access, authorized reviewers, preservation of recordings past normal retention standards).

 (d) Availability of current information for dispatchers (e.g., Shift Supervisor contact, rosters, member tracking methods, member contact, maps, emergency providers, tactical dispatch plans).

 (e) Assignment of field members and safety check intervals.

 (f) Procurement of external services (e.g., fire suppression, ambulances, aircraft, tow trucks, taxis).

 (g) Protection of essential equipment (e.g., surge protectors, gaseous fire suppression systems, uninterruptible power systems, generators).

 (h) Protection of radio transmission lines, antennas and power sources for the Dispatch Center (e.g., security cameras, fences).

 (i) Handling misdirected, silent and hang-up calls.

 (j) Handling private security alarms, if applicable.

 (k) Radio interoperability issues.



Dispatchers report to the Communications Manager. The responsibilities of the dispatcher include, but are not limited to:

 (a) Receiving and handling all incoming and transmitted communications, including:

  1. Emergency 9-1-1 lines.
  2. Business telephone lines.
  3. Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD)/Text Telephone (TTY) equipment.
  4. Radio communications with department members in the field and support resources (e.g., fire department, emergency medical services (EMS), allied agency law enforcement units).
  5. Other electronic sources of information (e.g.,   text   messages,   digital photographs, video).

 (b) Documenting the field activities of department members and support resources (e.g., fire department, EMS, allied agency law enforcement units).

 (c) Inquiry and entry of information through the Dispatch Center, department and other law enforcement database systems (CLETS, DMV, NCIC).

 (d) Monitoring department video surveillance systems.

 (e) Maintaining the current status of members in the field, their locations and the nature of calls for service.

 (f) Notifying the Shift Supervisor or field supervisor of emergency activity, including, but not limited to:

  1. Vehicle pursuits.
  2. Foot pursuits.
  3. Assignment of emergency response.



This Department provides members of the public with access to the 9-1-1 system for a single emergency telephone number.

When a call for services is received, the dispatcher will reasonably and quickly attempt to determine whether the call is an emergency or non-emergency, and shall quickly ascertain the call type, location and priority by asking four key questions:

  • Where?
  • What?
  • When?
  • Who?

If the dispatcher determines that the caller has a hearing and/or speech impairment or disability, he/she shall immediately initiate a connection with the individual via available TDD/TTY equipment or Telephone Relay Service (TRS), as mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

If the dispatcher determines that the caller is a limited English proficiency (LEP) individual,     the dispatcher should quickly determine whether sufficient information can be obtained to initiate an appropriate response. If language assistance is still needed, the language is known and a language-appropriate authorized interpreter is available in the Dispatch Center, the dispatcher should immediately connect the LEP caller to the authorized interpreter.

If no authorized interpreter is available or the dispatcher is unable to identify the caller’s language, the dispatcher will contact the contracted telephonic interpretation service and establish a three- party call connecting the dispatcher, the LEP individual and the interpreter.

Dispatchers should be courteous, patient and respectful when dealing with the public.



A call is considered an emergency when there is an immediate or potential threat to life or serious property damage, and the timely arrival of public safety assistance is of the utmost importance. A person reporting an emergency should not be placed on hold until the dispatcher has obtained all necessary information to ensure the safety of the responding department members and affected individuals.

Emergency calls should be dispatched immediately. The Shift Supervisor shall be notified of pending emergency calls for service when department members are unavailable for dispatch.



A call is considered a non-emergency call when there is no immediate or potential threat to life or property. A person reporting a non-emergency may be placed on hold, if necessary, to allow the dispatcher to handle a higher priority or emergency call.

The reporting person should be advised if there will be a delay in the dispatcher returning to the telephone line or when there will be a delay in the response for service.



The police radio system is for official use only, to be used by dispatchers to communicate     with department members in the field. All transmissions shall be professional and made in a calm, businesslike manner, using proper language and correct procedures. Such transmissions shall include, but are not limited to:

 (a) Members acknowledging the dispatcher with their radio identification call signs and current location.

 (b) Dispatchers acknowledging and responding promptly to all radio transmissions.

 (c) Members keeping the dispatcher advised of their status and location.

 (d) Member and dispatcher acknowledgements shall be concise and without further comment unless additional information is needed.

The Communications Manager shall be notified of radio procedure violations or other causes for complaint. All complaints and violations will be investigated and reported to the complainant’s supervisor and processed through the chain of command.



University of California Santa Cruz Police Department radio operations shall be conducted in accordance with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) procedures and requirements.



Radio call signs are assigned to department members based on factors such as duty assignment, uniformed patrol assignment and/or member identification number. Dispatchers shall identify themselves on the radio with the appropriate station name or number, and identify the department member by his/her call sign. Members should use their call signs when initiating communication with the dispatcher. The use of the call sign allows for a brief pause so that the dispatcher     can acknowledge the appropriate department member. Members initiating communication with other law enforcement or support agencies shall use their entire radio call sign, which includes the department station name or number.



It shall be the responsibility of the Dispatch Center to document all relevant information on calls for service or self-initiated activity. Dispatchers shall attempt to elicit, document and relay as much information as possible to enhance the safety of the member and assist in anticipating conditions that may be encountered at the scene. Desirable information would include, at a minimum:

  • Incident control number.
  • Date and time of request.
  • Name and address of the reporting person, if possible.
  • Type of incident reported.
  • Involvement of weapons, drugs and/or alcohol.
  • Location of incident reported.
  • Identification of members assigned as primary and backup.
  • Time of dispatch.
  • Time of the responding member’s arrival.
  • Time of member’s return to service.
  • Disposition or status of reported incident.



Information that becomes available through the Dispatch Center may be confidential or sensitive in nature. All members of the Dispatch Center shall treat information that becomes known to them as confidential and release that information in accordance with the Protected Information Policy.

Automated data, such as Department of Motor Vehicle records, warrants, criminal history information, records of internal police files or medical information, shall only be made available to authorized law enforcement personnel. Prior to transmitting confidential information via the radio, an admonishment shall be made that confidential information is about to be broadcast.



Dispatchers shall receive training consistent with minimum standards established by POST (Penal Code § 13510).




Policy 802 PDF