New Durham Tech 911 academy to combat Durham, regional emergency dispatchers shortage

Durham Technical Community College, the City of Durham, and two county emergency response agencies are working together to launch a 911 dispatcher training this spring.

At a news conference Wednesday, newly sworn-in City of Durham Mayor Elaine O’Neal announced a partnership between Durham Tech and the City of Durham to develop a 911 Academy to increase the supply of trained emergency communication personnel. Durham Tech is also working with Durham and Orange County Emergency Communications departments.

The Durham Emergency Communications Center has faced staffing challenges in recent months as have many other emergency response centers in the region. The Durham Tech 911 Academy will centralize training efforts for the City of Durham, Durham County, and Orange County to provide a comprehensive and uniform training for dispatchers. At present, trainings are conducted in-house at the individual agencies.

O’Neal said filling the dispatcher jobs were essential to her approach to bolster law enforcement efforts in Durham.

“I have asked Durham Tech to assist the city in addressing the challenges with our 911 system. One thing is clear, we need more trained 911 dispatchers,” O’Neal said. “Durham Tech is developing a 911 academy to provide high-quality, standardized training to prepare individuals to serve as 911 dispatchers for the city and other communications centers in Durham and Orange County.” 

“We are built for and ready to do this,” said Durham Tech President J.B. Buxton. “Durham Tech has the ability to move quickly and effectively in launching programs like this that connect our residents to community needs — and produce pipelines to careers. As this community’s college, we want to partner with governmental and community institutions to address community challenges.”

Justin Long, Dean of Human Services and Public Safety at Durham Tech, said his division is working with partner organizations to finalize the curriculum, budget, acquisition of the necessary training software, and financial assistance for students for the course. 

Long said he aims to have the course take eight weeks to complete and be available year-round as needed by partner agencies.

“We will move quickly to put a thorough curriculum together that prepares our graduates to immediately start in these vital dispatcher jobs,” Long said. “This is going to have a positive impact on improving staffing at our emergency communications centers.”

If interested in the 911 Academy, please contact Juston Long at

Desiree Towson, M.S.: Durham Tech Communications and Public Relations Coordinator at