911 Dispatcher of the year ... hey, I know her!

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In 1981, California declared the first Public Safety Telecommunications Week, so you can't say nothing good ever comes out of California.


Around here we call ourselves dispatchers, or sometimes 911 dispatchers if we've feeling particularly unappreciated, which does happen from time to time. In a fifteen minute period last night we took 911 calls of a prowler tapping on windows, domestic violence in progress, and a baby not breathing, so personally I feel some appreciation is in order.


Hearing my feelings, Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb proclaimed April 8-14 Public Safety Telecommunications Week here in the Hoosier State, as has been happening since 1999. Saying "dispatchers" doesn't really cover it, especially in small dispatch centers. On third shift I work with a grand total of one partner at a time. We take 911 and business line calls, send out police and fire trucks, transfer and monitor EMS calls, and handle some calls ourselves without having to contact anyone else.


We run license plates and driver's licenses, handle warrant searches and services, put out weather alerts, contact highway departments for road problems and utility departments for electrical or gas emergencies, keep track of flooded and closed roads, and track down the origin points for the hundredth 911 hangup call of the night.


We talk to the drunk, the disturbed, and angry, the pranksters, and the people having the worst days of their lives. We guide people through what they need to do to survive until help can arrive.


We are, sometimes, the last voice someone ever hears.


And some of us do it while staying up all night.


By the way, some government agencies classify us as clerical workers.


Now, every once in awhile, almost as if by miracle, Public Safety Telecommunicators get recognition. I give you:


Boy, that looks a lot like my shift partner there on the right.

Hey ... that IS my shift partner!


Congratulations to Bonnie Clevenger on well deserved recognition! I can only imagine riches will follow, and I'm hoping she'll shed some small portion of them on the rest of us. Now remember, if you have to call 911: There's a human being on the other end of the phone.



John Minehan Added Apr 8, 2018 - 8:15am
I was reminded of this (in a good way):
What Is a Cop?”
(From “The Interrogation”)
Written by: Preston Wood

"Jack delivers the following speech about the trials and tribulations of being a police officer to a rookie undercover officer suspected of robbing a liquor store. It’s our most-requested speech, and many people frame the words. (Please note that this transcript was taken from the slightly edited Nick at Nite version of this episode. We plan to add a few missing lines soon.)"
“It’s awkward having a policeman around the house. Friends drop in, a man with a badge answers the door, the temperature drops 20 degrees.
You throw a party and that badge gets in the way. All of a sudden there isn’t a straight man in the crowd. Everybody’s a comedian. “Don’t drink too much,” somebody says, “or the man with a badge’ll run you in.” Or “How’s it going, Dick Tracy? How many jaywalkers did you pinch today?” And then there’s always the one who wants to know how many apples you stole.
All at once you lost your first name. You’re a cop, a flatfoot, a bull, a dick, John Law. You’re the fuzz, the heat; you’re poison, you’re trouble, you’re bad news. They call you everything, but never a policeman.
It’s not much of a life, unless you don’t mind missing a Dodger game because the hotshot phone rings. Unless you like working Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, at a job that doesn’t pay overtime. Oh, the pay’s adequate– if you count pennies you can put your kid through college, but you better plan on seeing Europe on your television set.
And then there’s your first night on the beat. When you try to arrest a drunken prostitute in a Main St. bar and she rips your new uniform to shreds. You’ll buy another one– out of your own pocket.
And you’re going to rub elbows with the elite– pimps, addicts, thieves, bums, winos, girls who can’t keep an address and men who don’t care. Liars, cheats, con men– the class of Skid Row.
And the heartbreak– underfed kids, beaten kids, molested kids, lost kids, crying kids, homeless kids, hit-and-run kids, broken-arm kids, broken-leg kids, broken-head kids, sick kids, dying kids, dead kids. The old people nobody wants– the reliefers, the pensioners, the ones who walk the street cold, and those who tried to keep warm and died in a $3 room with an unventilated gas heater. You’ll walk your beat and try to pick up the pieces.
Do you have real adventure in your soul? You better have, because you’re gonna do time in a prowl car. Oh, it’s going to be a thrill a minute when you get an unknown-trouble call and hit a backyard at two in the morning, never knowing who you’ll meet– a kid with a knife, a pill-head with a gun, or two ex-cons with nothing to lose.
And you’re going to have plenty of time to think. You’ll draw duty in a lonely car, with nobody to talk to but your radio.
Four years in uniform and you’ll have the ability, the experience and maybe the desire to be a detective. If you like to fly by the seat of your pants, this is where you belong. For every crime that’s committed, you’ve got three million suspects to choose from. And most of the time, you’ll have few facts and a lot of hunches. You’ll run down leads that dead-end on you. You’ll work all-night stakeouts that could last a week. You’ll do leg work until you’re sure you’ve talked to everybody in the state of California.
People who saw it happen – but really didn’t. People who insist they did it – but really didn’t. People who don’t remember – those who try to forget. Those who tell the truth – those who lie. You’ll run the files until your eyes ache.
And paperwork? Oh, you’ll fill out a report when you’re right, you’ll fill out a report when you’re wrong, you’ll fill one out when you’re not sure, you’ll fill one out listing your leads, you’ll fill one out when you have no leads, you’ll fill out a report on the reports you’ve made! You’ll write enough words in your lifetime to stock a library.
You’ll learn to live with doubt, anxiety, frustration. Court decisions that tend to hinder rather than help you. Dorado, Morse, Escobedo, Cahan. You’ll learn to live with the District Attorney, testifying in court, defense attorneys, prosecuting attorneys, judges, juries, witnesses. And sometimes you’re not going to be happy with the outcome.
But there’s also this: there are over 5,000 men in this city, who know that being a policema
Mark Hunter Added Apr 8, 2018 - 8:54am
Joe Friday? I forgot what great speeches he made on Dragnet; I couldn't begin to say it better, and that's way more like reality than most of today's cop shows.
John Minehan Added Apr 8, 2018 - 9:43am
The guy could write.
He could also act . . . at least some times. 
There is an episode from the original series where Friday is told his partner, Ben Romero, has died suddenly from a heart attack.  Since the actor who played him (Barton Yarborough)  had died under similar circumstances that were written into the show, the performance was affecting. 
Flying Junior Added Apr 8, 2018 - 9:46am
I wish I had read the speech imagining the voice of Jack Webb as my narrator!
Great article.  Congratulations to your friend are in order.
opher goodwin Added Apr 8, 2018 - 11:12am
The Salt of the Earth!! 
Pardero Added Apr 8, 2018 - 4:40pm
Mark Hunter,
Probably one of the more stressful jobs in the world. Just another job that I could never picture myself doing. I'd rather drive on black ice in a white-out blizzard.
Usually thankless, but blame is not uncommon, if something goes wrong. 
I am just glad that there is always an answer in a real emergency, such as when I spot the neighbor's dog peeing on my tires!
Mark Hunter Added Apr 8, 2018 - 11:57pm
John, I wish I still had the hardcover Dragnet novelization that was in my book collection when I was a kid ... it would be quite a collector's piece by now.
Mark Hunter Added Apr 8, 2018 - 11:58pm
I'll pass it on to her, Junior. Meanwhile, I'll be hearing everything in Jack Webb's voice the rest of the day.
Mark Hunter Added Apr 8, 2018 - 11:59pm
But opher ... the doctor just told me to cut down on my salt!
Mark Hunter Added Apr 9, 2018 - 12:13am
I've driven on black ice in a blizzard, Pardero ... assuming my car heater is working, I might choose that for a shift or two. A little less stressful.
And don't think I haven't gotten that call about dogs peeing!

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