On call for all
Years of service: I have been in law enforcement for 10 years and have spent the last five and a half years at the Arizona Department of Public Safety. I have also been serving as the Recording Secretary of the Arizona Highway Patrol Association (AHPA), and a civilian representative for six years.
Career highlights: I feel rewarded every day being able to help people, especially the Spanish-speaking community. There are many instances where the public needs assistance, but have trouble conveying their needs due to a language barrier. One 911 call has stuck in my memory. A Mexican woman was looking for a family member, about whom she had received troubling information here in the United States. Due to the language barrier, she found it difficult to obtain much information, and she was eventually transferred to our agency. I was able to determine her needs and got her the help and information that she desired. Although this incident was handled by another agency due to the location, I continued to assist with the translation until a Spanish-speaker from another police department was able to take over and advise her further. With Arizona bordering Mexico, there is a great need for those who are bilingual to offer emergency assistance.
Inherent dangers you face: I am not on the road, however, I do face dangers indirectly. I am entrusted to protect the public – including police officers. When officers encounter a hazardous situation, I face it with them. During frightening moments, like critical police incidents, tensions and adrenaline are high and it becomes more of a challenge to get all the information that is needed. Once, I had an officer come on the air to advise that he’d been shot at. His life was essentially in my hands, because I was the one who could send him the assistance he needed. I dispatched help, and I was happy that the officer and other co-workers went home to their families at the end of the day. I care about the people with whom I work, but dispatchers have to put emotions aside for all 911 calls when people’s lives are on the line.
Proudest moment: My proudest moment was seeing an officer, who was involved in a shooting, come into the radio room safe and sound with the assailant in custody. I was a part of a team that made sure our agency did not lose an officer and put the bad guy behind bars.
On the job/valuable learning experience: Patience is something you learn as a 911 dispatcher.
Why did you decide to pursue this career? I have always admired those who choose a career in law enforcement. Although I did not want to be a sworn officer on the road, I could still help people by dispatching.
Next professional goal:I am considering being a dispatch trainer and possibly move up to be a supervisor.
Advice to others considering your profession: There are many ways to contribute to our community through law enforcement without having to be asworn officer. Whether serving as a sworn officer or civilian, police work is an honorable and fulfilling career.