Sheriff fears dispatchers’ exodus amid complaints of unanswered 911 calls

Broward County is feeling the impact of a nationwide shortage of 911 dispatchers.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward County is feeling the impact of a nationwide shortage of 911 dispatchers.

Sheriff Gregory Tony told Broward commissioners on Tuesday that 911 calls are going unanswered because dispatchers are leaving for better-paying jobs. BSO has 81 vacancies in the communications department.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office needs to be prepared to answer about 2.5 million calls for help annually. Tony said the situation could worsen if others decide to leave too.

“How do we keep the people that we have now? How do we fill the current vacancies that we currently have?” he asked during the meeting.

Tony said that when those calls come in in volume it creates an influx and sometimes things don’t happen as fast as 911 callers needed. Tony also said he had told commissioners about the problem before.

Commissioner Mark Bogen told Tony he had the budget to give his staff raises. Tony disagreed. BSO has to deal with seven different unions.

“We can’t just jump out and give one set of raises to members in our organization without it impacting everyone else,” Tony said.

BSO is focusing on recruitment, retention, raises and incentives as possible solutions.

“The people that are there, we get the job done,” said Broward 911 dispatcher Shaunte Reid. “Anybody willing to come into this type of career, it’s very, very fulfilling.”

Other commissioners insisted on an immediate solution. Tony said he is working on a plan that he will present to them next week.

About the Authors:

Roy Ramos joined the Local 10 News team in 2018. Roy is a South Florida native who grew up in Florida City. He attended Christopher Columbus High School, Homestead Senior High School and graduated from St. Thomas University.

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.