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Creative steps necessary to fill dispatcher positions in Langlade County

Langlade County Sheriff Logo on police car
WAOW Television

911 dispatchers help to keep you connected to life-saving aid, and let law enforcement know what they're walking into, but staff numbers at the Langlade County Dispatch Center have fallen into the single digits. Leaders have had to get creative to fill the gaps.

That includes borrowing dispatchers from other counties, just to have enough people to answer the phones. Langlade County Administrator Jason Hilger said, "Marathon County started by helping fill seats here for night dispatch, and currently now they're able to connect remotely, and they've been helping when needed from Marathon County."

The issue the department is facing is that the people that they hire often don't stay due to the long hours and stressful situations. Hilger says it's something many counties across the state are seeing.

Hilger said, "I was on an administrator call last week, and probably eight administrators indicated that they're having difficulty with staffing as well. I think it's important that the state hears the message."

He says the county is working on several solutions to keep dispatchers, including training multiple new people at a time, and offering financial incentives for joining.

Hilger added, "Temporarily, we have offered a $5,000 dollar recruitment bonus, a $5,000 dollar retention bonus, and we offer a $5 per hour overtime stipend similar to what Marathon County has done."

Another possible solution, having the state look into joint dispatch centers, where two counties pool their resources to serve each other. A similar move was approved for Ashland and Bayfield counties in 2023.

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