Thursday, May 6, 2010

I'm A Hero Too

As much as our local newspaper loves to slam our Officers for every real or imagined slight, they have been known to acknowledge some of the good work of these men and women in blue. Saying that, I do wish that the Dispatchers were remembered and thought of as hero's too.

Imagine sitting in a windowless room, with padded walls lacking any real color, a few scattered photo enlargements of outdoor scenes, maybe three feet from the person sitting next to you, in chairs not designed for 24 hour use, two to three computer screens in front of you, listening to hour upon hour upon hour of crying, complaining, whining, confusion, panic, pain, fear, anger, drunken conversation, lectures on how to do the job, demands what they expect from you, language barriers and accents, well, you get the picture.

In response to these working conditions we must soothe, pull information from minds not functioning fully due to either or combination of alcohol/drugs/fear/confusion/anger/pain/panic/language/accents, answer questions - many of which should be asked of a legal advisor (but we're cheaper), give directions, play nursemaid, marriage and/or mental health counselor, phone information operator, well, you get the picture.

When working the radio we deal with sometimes an unending list of calls for service waiting to be dispatched. Anywhere between 12 to 70 officers listed as present on my screen, thus my responsibility of keeping safe and knowledgeable of where they are at all times. Officers who are so focused on what they are doing out in the field they are not paying attention to the dispatcher who is also trying to assist 20 other officers and keeps talking over or demanding more information to be researched, while assisting yet another 20 officers and dispatching calls for service. Trying to understand what they are saying while eating their mikes, or yelling into the mikes, or asking them to repeat because they are speaking so fast my 100+ words per minutes cannot keep up.

Citizens treat us like nit-wits and mentally slow because we tell them we can't do what they are wanting or simply not understanding how, as law enforcement, we can solve the problem overnight that they created over years of refusal to deal with the problem. Citizens feel as Public Servants it is our job to cater to their needs and wants, whether reasonable or not.

Officers treat us like we are of a lower society class, there for their needs and wants. Our job to simplify their lives. Get all the necessary information before they arrive. Know instinctively the back up or additional equipment necessary. We should be mind readers and know what is happening out there. And heaven forbid a "thank you" and "well done" be uttered more than once or twice a year.

Our Supervisors and the Brass have no problems dumping additional responsibilities or cutting back minimum staffing. They are fast to criticize and "Monday Morning Quarterback" and very short to praise and acknowledge good work. A "thank you" and "well done" even more foreign from that quarter.

Because I do this job with the best heart and patience and tolerance and incongruity and intelligence and skill and tears that I can muster, hour after hour, makes me a Hero too, dammit.


Gia's Spot said...

I will stand for you and pat you on the back... I am the biggest complainer in our department (and I don't care how high up they are, I speak my mind!) that we do not get any kudos, any words of praise at all. Just more of the same attitude over the air, like we are stupid for asking them to repeat their location after they scream it while chasing some idiot who chooses to run. So I tip my hat, raise my glass and a standing O for all us Dispatcher Heros!

Scott Pantall said...

Well said!

Thank you for putting into words what so many of us think every day.