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“It’s getting to be a critical situation,” OHP in need of dispatchers

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OKLAHOMA - Law enforcement agencies are having trouble hiring dispatchers nationwide and here at home.

Katie White has been dispatching for nearly 17 years.

Her job with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol is challenging, especially right now.

Currently, OHP is down eight dispatchers, including four in her office.

"Our responsibilities here and outlining troops grow as the day goes by," White said.

"It's getting to be a critical situation," said Capt. Paul Timmons with OHP. "Right now, we're closing two dispatch centers at night from basically 10:30 at night till 6:30 in the morning, and those calls are going through two different headquarters.”

The changes could jeopardize response times and officer safety.

"Our communication officers are our lifeline. They are the first one you talk to whenever there's an emergency, and they're the ones that are going to get you the help," said Capt. Randy Rogers, the legislative liaison for OHP.

It was a shock to OHP when no one applied to one of its last dispatcher job postings.

Now, in hopes to attract candidates the agency is working with lawmakers.

This upcoming session, they will propose to drop the age requirement from 20 to 18 and take away the 15-hour college requirement.

"We felt like we were missing out on the group of people that may be looking for a career right out of high school," Rogers said.

Dispatchers are hoping to get some help in the near future and are offering some advice.

"Yes, it is stressful, but it is one of the most rewarding careers you will have in your life," White said.

If you would like to apply, visit the state’s website.