Role of dispatchers should not be underestimated

Published 10:06 am Friday, September 19, 2008

In response to the recent article about the merger with 911, I would like to express a civilian opinion.

Many people are not aware of the duties performed by our local law enforcement dispatchers. Many may assume that they answer the telephone, then simply radio to the officer and then go back to whatever it is that they do.

However, this is a job that is continuously discounted as one that can be eliminated and our dispatchers face this threat year after year.

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I agree, as Councilman Leo Johnson pointed out, that “leadership is painful,” but losing the life of one of our citizens or police officers would be much more painful in my book. Our dispatchers remain in minute by minute contact with our officers when situations arise from simple to life threatening,

Our officers place their lives in the hands of these dispatchers every minute of the day, because without them they could be led into the lion’s den without the proper information on the subjects and situations.

Apart from providing pertinent information through LEADS and keeping the officers safe during their routine stops, these employees provide a service to the people. They are there to help, when you call or stop by the station, and provide a professional attitude toward your problems while reacting quickly to your needs.

Answering the phone requires a lot more than the ability to relay a message. The proper knowledge of the city aids in the quick responses needed when someone is in distress, as well as that of the subjects involved to see if they pose a threat to themselves and/or others.

Besides answering the phone, they are responsible for the record keeping of the phone calls, warrants, impound vehicles, case number assignment, and all other clerical duties of the department during their respective shifts.

It is in my opinion, that while it may cost less money to merge the Ironton Police and Lawrence County Sheriff dispatchers into the 911 service, it will cost the citizens and the officers much more when they are faced with a life-threatening situation and do not have their trusted team of dispatchers to help. Our dispatchers are “Unsung Heroes” in my opinion and it would be a grave mistake to lose these extremely important individuals.

As crime continues to rise in our community, this department of our city and county governments should not cut, because our lives depend on these people.