911 dispatcher is the first responder and an important connection which ensures clear communication between all responders, hence affecting the safety of the police and the citizens in need, emergency and fire medical personnel responding. Police officers and their actions in recent national events have been put under intensified scrutiny. But, the circumstances that emerge resulting to fatal police encounters comprise the actions of 911 dispatcher just like the actions of police officers. One such case is the shooting of Tamir Rice. Officers responding to a 911 dispatcher in November 2014 shot and killed the boy who was holding a pellet gun. Even though the dispatchers were told the child’s gun was not real, the dispatcher never relayed this message to the officers (Fitzsimmons 1). A different outcome could have been realized if this information had been shared.
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911 dispatchers act as intermediary for the police officer and the caller, all three of whom process information. Cognition thus is dispersed across various system agents. According to theories of distributed cognition, in intricate socio-technical systems, like 911 dispatching, information processing is demonstrated through the interactions and transactions that take place amid actors (Cooke et al. 146). The demonstrated interactions and transactions rotate around the information sharing and communication amid responding officers and dispatchers (Mesmer-Magnus & DeChurch, 536). It is obvious 911 dispatchers carry a heavy load. These dispatchers have to be ready to deal with unappreciative callers, and be ready to answer any calls. Thus, a 911 dispatcher has to identify the symptoms of stress and focus on self-care. This would help with frustration, stress, and irritation which can easily result from the job.
- Cooke, N. J., Gorman, J. C., Duran, J. L., & Taylor, A. R. Team cognition in experienced command-and-control teams. 2007. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 13(3), 146
- Fitzsimmons, E. 12-Year-Old Boy Dies after Police in Cleveland Shoot Him. 2014. Web. 2017. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/24/us/boy-12-dies-after-being-shotby-cleveland-police-officer.html?_r=0>
- Mesmer-Magnus, J. R., & DeChurch, L. A. Information sharing and team performance: a meta-analysis. 2009. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94(2), 535-546