911 | Police Communicator

The Ottawa Police Service Communications Centre is located at our central Headquarters, 474 Elgin Street, and responsible for handling calls for service throughout the national capital region.

Police Communicators respond to incoming 911 emergency calls, police urgencies and administrative calls. Police Communicators serve the general public, partnering emergency services, alarm companies, tow companies, utilities and other commercial agencies. In addition, they dispatch Ottawa Police front line members to all calls for service.

What does a Police Communicator do?

Police Communicators receive calls from citizens and other agencies requesting information, reporting emergency and non-emergency occurrences.

During the course of an 11-hour shift, Police Communicators rotate between duties of 911 Operator and Call Analyst, Dispatcher and Dispatcher Assistant, which all require mandatory training in order to meet compulsory adequacies.

911 Operators/Call Analysts initiate the response of Police, Fire, Paramedics and/or other City services from routine incidents to life-threatening events. A typical day may start with familiar requests by officers for a variety of computer system transactions, or even tend to calls for service, which demands the gathering and/or distribution of critical information to other police members or other agencies across the region. 

Communicators answer to incoming emergency and non-emergency calls, as well as calls received through 911 may range from, but are not limited to:

  • assaults
  • attempt suicide
  • collisions
  • internet harassment
  • mental health assessments
  • robberies

Dispatchers are responsible for dispatching prioritized calls for service and ensuring adequate sector coverage, all while maintaining officer and public safety. The job requires simultaneous activation of several response procedures and policies, including monitoring and recording multiple response unit activities at single or multiple locations.


Find out more about becoming a Police Communicator

Remaining calm and making quick, sound decisions in emergency situations are vital in performing well in emergency response situations.

Police Communicators are a critical element in the civilian team that brings law enforcement, fire protection, emergency medical care, and City services to the community - they are the heart of the 911 system in Ottawa.

Police Communicators must work with a high degree of judgment and independence, and also be able to evaluate emergency situations and make split-second conclusions regarding the type of response appropriate for the circumstances. The work can be very intense, but very rewarding!

This job is not for everyone!

Many different things are occurring simultaneously that must be keep track of, and at any time, a sudden emergency will require the Communicator's full and immediate attention and quick response. While responding to 911 calls for service, often, it is required to listen to French dialogue, speak in French and simultaneously type in English. This position requires shift work, meaning you will be required to work a variety of day, evening, and overnight shifts, including weekends and holidays.

Job Demands

Do you want work that is exciting and never the same?

  • Can you multitask without getting flustered?
  • Can you read and listen well, remember facts quickly and accurately, compare details and draw logical conclusions from what you've read or heard?
  • Can you speak clearly and communicate your ideas well to others?
  • Do you want earn a good wage with great benefits?

If you can honestly answer "yes" to all of the above questions, you may be an excellent candidate for a position as a Communication Centre Clerk with the Ottawa Police Service.

All work is performed in an environment which requires the application of speed and accuracy in urgent and, in some cases, life-threatening situations which may be negatively impacted by errors on the part of the incumbent. Persons hired for this position will be expected to perform seemingly incompatible operations concurrently and calmly on a routine basis.

Ability to:

  • Understand and carry out oral/written instructions and procedures
  • Think, speak, multitask, and act clearly and efficiently in emergency situations
  • Adequately hear verbal communications at normal sound levels
  • Learn standard broadcast procedures of a public safety telecommunications system and Ottawa Police Service general Policies and Procedures
  • Operate standard office equipment
  • Calmly and effectively deal with irate persons
  • Establish and maintain cooperative relationships with those contacted in the course of work.
Job Requirements

Mandatory Requirements:

  • Grade 12 education, or equivalent, plus one year post-secondary
  • Fully bilingual, English written, oral and reading; French oral and reading
  • Keyboarding skills, minimum 45 WPM
  • Ability to work shift work - days, afternoons and over nights

Special consideration will be given to candidates who possess the following additional skills:

  • Post-Secondary education
  • Additional languages
  • Prior experience in a police environment
  • Prior public safety dispatch experience
  • Experience working with the public in a social work environment (e.g. CAS, Harvest House)
  • Previous customer service experience

The Communication Centre operates on a 24-hour basis, seven (7) days a week, 365 days a year.

The schedule is based on 42-day rotational shifts, which equals six (6)-week sequences, divided in three (3) two-week groups: 

  • Days: 0700 to 1700hrs
  • Nights: 2000 to 0700hrs
  • Early Afternoons: 0900 to 2000hrs
  • Late Afternoons: 1700 to 0400hrs

The rotation of the shifts are two on, two off, three on, two off, two on, three off.

Week #1: Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Week #2: Wednesday, Thursday

Emergency Communicator Course

You may wish to consider putting yourself through an Emergency Communicator Course. The course is not mandatory for application to the Ottawa Police Service. The following colleges offer the course:

For more information, you may wish to check out the Associated Public Services Communications Officials (APCO) Canada and USA sites.