The first point of contact for the public is usually the Communications Center. Communications is staffed by two dispatchers with one acting as a call taker with the other manning the radio.
Dispatchers are responsible for coordinating incoming calls for service and dispatching the officers to the calls. They prioritize the response with codes ranging from routine non-emergency responses all the way up to serious emergency calls. The dispatchers have to be accomplished at multi-tasking as there are often times many things going on at once. They handle all of the patrol officers on the shift as well as detectives. The officers depend upon the dispatchers for everything from running criminal record checks on arrests to making sure they are safe on the street.
The dispatchers are often the "unsung heroes" of police work as their contributions aren't always as visible as the officers' contributions.