Beach dispatchers asked to work 32 mandatory overtime hours this month

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Are Virginia Beach dispatchers overworked? Dispatchers in the Resort City are now required to work a mandatory 32 hours of overtime a month due to a shortage of employees.

“The job that my team does is unbelievable,” said Stephen Williams, Virginia Beach’s Director of Emergency Communications and Citizen Services.

Dispatchers field more than 200,000 emergency calls a year. Plus, there’s another 400,000 non-emergency calls.

“They are truly the guardians of chaos,” Williams added. “The gatekeeper of chaos.”

There is always stress, even more so when the center is short dispatchers. It means everyone else needs to pick up the slack.

“If you don’t want to work the overtime, my goal is that you don’t have to,” Williams said.

But right now, staff is required to work a mandatory 32 hours of overtime a month. Williams isn’t happy about that number.

“I told our employees in January that my goal is before the end of the year we are going to reduce mandatory overtime significantly,” he said.

When Williams took over a year and a half ago, there were 40 openings. It’s now down to 22. He’s changed the length of the application process and developed new strategies to get employees trained quicker.

“A lot of our employees have bought in and helping us to do that,” Williams said. “They know that I got their back. We are really trying to make an impactful change.”