Then again, how much information is too much? We can’t monopolize the radio reading a Tolstoyesque narrative. Often time doesn’t permit us to read through an entire call and tell the officers only the important stuff. AND who determines what is important? New operators want to put everything into the call including minute details about the caller’s mother’s brother’s uncle’s dogs. In time, an operator is able to streamline. So, as a dispatcher, you’re now tasked with determining what in the call needs to go out over the air. You can always use the old stand-by, “Additional information in the call,” but is it realistic to believe the officer will have time to pull over, read the entire call text and continue on his or her way? Probably not.
He has a Gun… But it’s Legal
This is a tricky one, I believe, because you don’t want to make a situation seem more dangerous than it is. At the same time, you want officers to be well-informed and safe. So what do you do when you ask a caller if the suspect has a weapon or if there are any weapons in the home and they reply, “I don’t think so. I don’t know. Maybe. He could.” As we know, anybody could. Or what about places like the region where I dispatched where open carry was legal and it seemed everybody owned a gun? It didn’t mean it played a part in the current situation. But it might. We need to make sure we ask clarifying questions and input accurate information. A tragic situation in Alleghany County (PA) shows how important this is. The operator was trained to put “no weapons” when none were involved and no one was being threatened, so this was what she entered in response to a mother calling about wanting her drunk son removed. The son owned guns but mom stated, “They’re all legal.” Unfortunately, “no weapons” lead to the death of three officers
As professionals and first line responders, public safety telecommunications operators need to make sure the information they collect and transmit is thorough and includes all the important safety facts. We need to keep certain callers on the phone to maintain live, open communication in volatile situations. We need to clarify situations and articulate accurate information. We need to practice good radio techniques to ensure officers get the information they need in a timely manner. As indicated in our titles, what we do for a living is communicate. We give and receive information. It’s our duty to make sure we do that to the best of our ability not giving in to fatigue, irritation, lack of patience, hurriedness or pride. A life may depend on it.
About The Author:
Michelle Perin has been a freelance writer since 2000. Her credits include Law Enforcement Technology, Police, Law and Order, Police Times, Beyond the Badge, Michigan State Trooper, Michigan Snowmobiler Magazine and Chief of Police. She writes two columns a month for Officer.com. Michelle worked for the Phoenix (AZ) Police Department for almost eight years. In December 2010, she earned her Master’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Indiana State University. Currently, Michelle works as the Administrative Coordinator at Jasper Mountain a residential psychiatric facility for children. In her spare time, she enjoys being the fundraising coordinator for the Lane Area Ferret Shelter & Rescue, playing her bass, working on her young adult novel Desert Ice and raising her two sons in a small town in Oregon.