Tales of 9-1-1 From A Veteran Dispatcher

9-1-1 operators/dispatchers have many things in common including their experiences under the headset. We laugh, cry and get angry with each other. Who else could understand our wild, wonderful world?

Sometimes you feel like a Secretary

When I started working as a police telecommunications operator I was positive that every call I took and every crime I dispatched was going to be super exciting and important. I envisioned my career as one where I would be part of a super-hero crime fighting team.  What I discovered is that a lot of my time was spent looking things up-an address, information in a previous report, registration information, the time the sun set, etc. I was the queen of the information that allowed officers to complete all the paperwork they have to do (In my police work fantasies, there was never any report writing). At first, all the menial tasks I was asked to do, felt just that-menial. In fact, I often felt down-right irritated. Why couldn’t my officer just run the person himself and read the results (especially when they were running a name like Jose Rodriguez)? After a while, I realized this part of my job was just as important. I stopped feeling like a secretary and started feeling like a personal assistant with a head-set.

Being a 9-1-1 operator/dispatcher has its ups and downs. It is incredibly rewarding and incredibly frustrating. Some days I didn’t know which way was which and many times I just prayed I could keep winging it long enough not to get someone killed. In talking to others who have done this work and also reading their stories, I know I’m not alone. We share similar experiences in this occupation and it’s fun to share them. Thank you readers for continuing to allow me to share mine.

P.S. If you’re looking for a great holiday gift with more tales, consider Women Warriors: Stories from the Thin Blue Line. I have another dispatcher story in there and all proceeds benefit the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF).


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