Critical need for 911 operators in Winston-Salem

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The Winston-Salem Police Department is hoping to attract more 911 operators.

“We’ve sent our recruiters out to all of the high schools because for that specific position, you only have to be 18 and you just have to be at least a high school graduate,” said Sgt. Verron Chue, supervisor of the recruitment unit.

Over the last four months, the recruiting team has focused heavily on filling current vacancies.

The City of Winston-Salem is short 13 positions.

The openings are related to several factors, including, employees leaving or retiring, the amount of time it takes to complete background checks and the amount of time it takes to adequately train a new staff member.

People who need to call 911 will not experience any impact to service, but the vacancies have put a strain on employees.

“We’re working a lot of overtime. It’s mandatory overtime for everybody,” Public Safety Communications Squad Supervisor Chad Higgins said.

The recent recruitment efforts appear to be moving in the right direction to alleviate some of the pressure.

“We actually had a few people that [have] applied and are set to start here pretty soon based off that push itself," Chue said.

The issue is not exclusive to Winston-Salem.

Guilford Metro 911, which handles calls for Guilford County and the City of Greensboro, is currently down seven 911 operators with an eighth vacancy expected as of Aug. 1.

You can apply for an operator position with the City of Winston-Salem or Guilford Metro 911 online.