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Amid OHP Dispatcher Shortage, State Senator Looks To Lower Requirements

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OHP has a shortage of dispatchers, but one state senator wants to lower the requirements to become one. OHP has a shortage of dispatchers, but one state senator wants to lower the requirements to become one.
State Senator Josh Brecheen filed a bill that would lower the age requirement for a dispatcher from 20 to 18. State Senator Josh Brecheen filed a bill that would lower the age requirement for a dispatcher from 20 to 18.
Every dispatcher at Troop B has at least 10 years of experience, but OHP is prepared to hire someone straight out of high school, if they qualify. Every dispatcher at Troop B has at least 10 years of experience, but OHP is prepared to hire someone straight out of high school, if they qualify.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers said budget cuts are making it harder for them to do their jobs.

Troopers said traffic citations were down about six percent in December, compared to a year ago.

The state troopers are under a new restriction, limiting them to driving only 100 miles a day.

Trooper Dwight Durant said it’s only a matter of time before the mile restriction impacts public safety.

"We do preventative patrolling to prevent accidents, and when we're not out doing patrolling, and people know we're not out, I think, naturally, the accident numbers will go up," he said.

OHP also has a shortage of dispatchers, but one state senator wants to lower the requirements needed to apply.

Every dispatcher at Troop B has at least 10 years of experience, but OHP is prepared to hire someone straight out of high school if they qualify.

The dispatchers at Troop B answer between 50 and 100 calls each day - and because one lieutenant is retiring, they'll soon be even busier, and Durant said there aren't enough people applying for open positions.

"We had an opening here a while back and we posted the opening and we didn't get any applicants, and that's disturbing," he said.

State Senator Josh Brecheen filed a bill that would lower the age requirement for a dispatcher from 20 to 18. It also eliminates the requirement to have six months of dispatcher experience or college credit.

Applicants would still need a high school diploma or a GED.

Amy: “Can an 18-year-old handle a stressful emergency?”
Durant: "Absolutely. Some can."

Durant welcomes the changes if they pass because it will widen the pool of applicants for vacancies across the state.

But, he said, whether the requirements change, the job still comes with challenges.

"Being a dispatcher, I don't know if I could do it. It's stressful," he said, adding that the ability to multitask and stay calm is something troopers need from dispatchers.

"Our lives, the troopers in the field, we depend on them so much," said Durant.

OHP said even though they're in a hiring freeze right now they can hire dispatchers because it's such a critical position to the public's safety.

At the end of the month there will be 11 dispatcher openings across the state, including two in Muskogee.

If the law is passed, it would go into effect November 1, 2017.

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