Metro Detroit counties work to hire 911 dispatchers, deputies & more

Posted at 5:30 AM, Oct 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-29 05:30:56-04

(WXYZ) — The worker shortage is hitting communities from every angle, including those who answer 911 calls or respond to emergencies.

Some first responders in the metro Detroit area are working overtime to fill the gaps.

From 911 call centers to sheriff's departments, leaders in both Oakland and Macomb counties are working to find more first responders and fast, but as they do, they're relying on current staff, who are stretched thin.

"We get officers sent in within about a minute about 45 seconds its already sent to a dispatcher," Lt. Jen Miles with the Oakland County Sheriff's Office said.

Miles said despite its current staff shortage, these important calls are still getting answered.

"Being short-handed does add additional stress," Miles added.

In Macomb County, they're struggling to bring on deputies in all areas, including corrections and dispatchers, even as County Executive Mark Hackel said they're on track to pay dispatchers the highest amount in the state.

Hackel said in some cases, they're relying on forced overtime, while at the same time, the ComTec Center where 911 calls are routed through is overflowing with open positions.

"If you are tech-savvy, you are a kid in high school, these are opportunities for good jobs at 18 years of age. They are good-paying jobs," Hackel said.

In Oakland County, new deputies can enjoy a sign-on bonus of $3,200, a tactic we're seeing more and more as companies and counties compete for applicants.

"We would like our people to be able to work their normal job and not extra if they don't choose," Miles said.

Hackel did stress that while the shortage is putting them in a tough spot, residents are still safe and can be assured that if they call for help, their call will be answered.