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Communications is one of the most important of the support services contained within the police department. It is the service responsible for maintaining a vital link between the public and the officers in the field. Police communications operators, or dispatchers, handle many types of calls and situations daily, from routine to emergency critical incidents. The dispatcher provides a necessary, indispensable function for the public and the police officer alike. 

Communications Center

At the Spearfish Police Department, the communications center receives thousands of calls a year. Many of these calls are simple requests for directions, locations, phone numbers, and referrals that are handled directly by the dispatcher or transferred to another department for advice or follow-up. Hundreds of other calls result in "calls for service", which require either the response of a police officer or other action that needs to be documented. The majority of calls received are of a routine, business nature that are easily handled by the dispatcher. But there are also those calls of an emergency nature that require the dispatcher's greatest skills, training, and level-headed thinking to be utilized.

Dispatchers, like officers, work eight hour shifts, and there is at least one dispatcher on duty at any given time of day or night on weekdays, weekends or holidays. When fully staffed, the communications service employs seven full time dispatchers to fill these shifts.


Even though we utilize an enhanced 9-1-1 system which indicates a 9-1-1 callers phone number, it remains extremely important that you are familiar with your location at all times. You must be prepared to give directions to the exact location of the emergency. Be prepared to answer the following questions.

  1. Do you have an Emergency?
  2. What is the location of the emergency? (Address, Street Name and House Number)
  3. What is your name? (optional)
  4. What is the phone number you are calling from?
  5. How many patients / what is on fire / law enforcement requirements?
  6. Is the patient conscious / can you get out of the house / are you in danger?
  7. Is the patient breathing normally?
  8. Are there any other problems with the patient?

From this point the dispatcher may ask a series of questions directed to the status of the patient and offer medical intervention as to how you as the caller can aide the patient. Always attempt to be as calm as possible, you are an important part of providing help to those in need. In order for us to help you, you must help us to obtain all the necessary information to process the call. Help will be on its way!