Dispatch Duties


For many years Dispatch Services were a part of the Sheriff’s Office. Personnel were cross-trained as dispatchers and corrections officers and shared duties between the two positions. As dispatch duties became more demanding, the decision was made to start hiring dispatchers. This was done over time. The first years of having “civilian dispatchers”, as they were titled, resulted in a high turnover rate. New hires were being trained constantly. The County staffing level for “civilian dispatchers” was set at two, each working 40 hours per week.

In 2002/2003, the Board of Commissioners voted to separate dispatch duties from the Sheriff’s Office, thus creating a new department falling under Emergency Management, and responsible to the County Administrator.

A branch of the new complex was designed to house the Dispatch Center. The Board authorized a staffing level of 10 with one support staff person. This was based on the concept of two dispatchers per shift 24/7. The new center opened on November 9th, 2004. The staffing level remains the same.

The telephone surcharge at that time generated just over half of what was needed to support the 9-1-1 budget. Hard-line phones were being replaced with cellular phones. Phone surcharges were decreasing and expected to continue to do so as more people were using only cell phones or VoIP technology. The County was having to use some funds collected from tower leases to help off-set shortfalls, thereby creating a possible critical situation, should a major tower issue occur.


Dispatchers normally work 8-hour shifts with two dispatchers on duty 24/7. When at full staffing level, one dispatcher is assigned a “relief shift”, filling in for vacation, sick time, training, special duties, etc…


Dispatchers answer all incoming 9-1-1 calls and all calls for the Sheriff’s Office. The 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 statistics follow:






Landline 9-1-1 Calls





Wireless 9-1-1 Calls





Total 9-1-1 Calls





Non-Emergency/ Admin Calls










Total Events





Dispatchers placed in excess of 100,000 additional out-going calls. These calls are usually to assist other agencies/departments and citizens at large. Out-going calls are not counted and therefore the 100,000 is an approximation and likely a conservative figure. Dispatchers transfer calls to other county offices, including the Sheriff’s Administration, Law Enforcement Division and Jail Division. Dispatchers will connect callers to deputy voice mailboxes and other voice mailboxes, and offer specific information (like marine safety class schedules).


Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) is a management tool purchased at the time of the changeover in 2004. CAD is designed to accomplish many things like tracking personnel, equipment, reports, addresses, phone information, mapping, and much more. This is where every police report, EMS (ambulance) call, and fire call starts. This system tracks an incredible amount of information to assist agencies and departments in a variety of ways. In 2009, 11,744 events were entered into CAD. In 2010, 12,215 events were entered into CAD, with 11,831 events entered into CAD in 2011. In 2012, 12,376 events were entered into CAD. These events usually mean someone responded to a request for service from the public for law enforcement, fire and/or ambulance related incidents. Most of these events result in someone filing some type of a report. All CAD records are maintained as historical documents, recorded to document activity and responses including time, date, addresses, nature of the events and much more.


Dispatchers are responsible for all Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN) system management. They enter and maintain warrants for District Court, Circuit Court, Family Court and GTB Tribal Court for cases in our county. They modify, as needed, at the direction of the courts. Dispatchers enter and maintain all PPOs (Personal Protection Orders), Court Orders, Probation Orders from all courts in the county. They track abandoned, towed and impounded vehicles for the Sheriff’s Office and others. Dispatchers are responsible for getting LEIN bulletins out to all local law enforcement agencies. These are regional and sometimes state-wide alerts.


Dispatchers radio dispatch for the Sheriff’s Office, Tribal Police, Suttons Bay Police and all fire departments in the county. They also dispatch for State Police, National Park Service and EMS units, and North Flight EMS, when responding into our county. Dispatchers also monitor radio information from marine radios and Grand Traverse County main frequencies. A radio frequency is also available for the school bus and wrecker drivers who wish to use the system.


Dispatchers are responsible for monitoring weather related information from various sources including the National Weather Service (NWS), TV stations, LEIN and others. They make decisions and notifications, based on this information, to Emergency Management, Fire Services, Law Enforcement and Marine Division.


Through Emergency Management, dispatchers assist in the development of pre-plans for major events taking place in the County at any given time. This is coordinated with the Fire Chiefs, Sheriff, event organizers, and others. The purpose is to have a plan in writing, on hand, should something happen at their event, which would impact multiple persons, agencies and resources.

We have completed and have on hand at all times, an intensive Safe School Plan. This addresses issues that may occur at any of our schools at any given time. These plans have been exercised and have proven to be very valuable in assisting responders and school personnel in making decisions before and during an event.


The EOC is a room set up for key officials to gather during a major impact event. This room doubles as a training room and is used regularly by staff. It is equipped and ready for use 24/7, should a need arise. The County conducts several exercises using various levels of responses throughout the year.

Each year, Leelanau County participates in at least one regional exercise which requires activation of our EOC staff. These multi-county exercises present great opportunities for our staff to review and learn from others in a controlled environment.

All dispatchers are trained through Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in many command and exercise courses. We have wireless internet capabilities from the EOC.


Anyone in the county who has a need or desire to let responders know specific information about themselves before an event, can complete a form to be entered into our 9-1-1 data-base. This is updated regularly. Information may be such things as a medical history, next of kin, hidden key location, and more. A person with a history of strokes, for example, may want responders (ambulance) to know this before they arrive on location. Past medical history and prior medical events may assist paramedics in their decision process before arriving. This is important for those living alone. The information is protected and only released to authorized persons over a secure system and not heard on scanners. We currently have 282 participants.


This is a cooperative program between Emergency Management, Senior Services (formerly Commission on Aging) and the Sheriff’s Office. Those with specific needs and qualifications are issued radio bracelets that can be tracked with a device to locate that person. This is designed for those who have a history of leaving home and are unable to care for themselves (Alzheimer’s or Dementia).


Dispatchers work with Senior Services to offer the Freedom Alert (formerly Guardian Alert) program. A pendent is worn that allows 24/7 access to help in the event of an emergency by simply pushing the button on the pendent to call 911. We currently have over 205 active participants.


Leelanau County was the first county in the area to operate under this program. The protocol is designed to send the most appropriate level of care to a patient needing medical assistance. Dispatchers ask a well-defined series of short questions, which will then determine a proper level of response from the EMS providers and increase the safety of EMS personnel, as well as the general public. This has become a worldwide program and is strongly supported by Medical Control throughout Michigan. The goal is for all counties to be using the same system.


LEPC for short is a state program in place to develop a written pre-plan for those facilities storing threshold levels, or higher, of chemicals that, if released, could cause illness or injury to responders and nearby persons. We also use this same system to develop plans for the fire departments, known as the Fire Fighters Right to Know Act. These plans are reviewed and updated biennially or annually, depending on certain factors. Several community planners assist in this process. Updated plans are made available for Dispatch to easily access on the computer.


Leelanau County participated with the Knights of Columbus on the sign campaign throughout the county and thousands of address signs have been placed over the past few years. These address signs assist responders every day. To order an address sign contact Northern Lumber or Home Depot. 


We also work with this group and Senior Services on the Yard Light program. This is a simple devise that, when activated, will cause the outside porch light to rapidly flash and again, makes their home easier to find during an emergency.


We forward event reports to the deputies daily, at shift changes. This allows them to be informed on what has happened since the last time they worked and they can go back as far as they want to. A report is also sent to media outlets each morning, Monday through Friday. Other law enforcement agencies receive regular updates as well.


We work with the fire departments in tracking the buildings having the Knox Box system for entry control.


This dispatch method was implemented in 2006 for Glen Lake Fire Department, at their request. This is a resource management tool. The township is geographically split into boxes. They have established what equipment they want responding to an event within each box. Several factors were used to establish the response levels: location, type of housing, hydrants, distance, etc. October 1st, 2012, all fire departments in the county use this protocol.

These are examples of the various day-to-day duties that dispatchers encounter regularly. This is not intended to be a complete list of their duties and obligations.

FAMILY PREPAREDNESS GUIDES are available at no charge. If you are interested in obtaining a copy, click on the following link: Family Preparedness Guide

Matt Ansorge, Director of Emergency Management, 911 Director

231-256-8775 mansorge@co.leelanau.mi.us

This page last updated on 4/20/2015.