In the last post we talked about the important role that corrections officers play in the warrior community and the fact that they are often under appreciated for that role and commonly overlooked in discussions on warriors. When I wrote that post I considered encouraging you to go hug a corrections officer today to show your appreciation but was concerned that too many people may get their asses kicked as a result so I will once again encourage you to express your appreciation some other way.
Today we will look at a few other forgotten elements of the warrior community.
Communications Officers/ 911 Operators / Dispatchers
These people play a vital role in the warrior community. Day in and day out they takes hundreds or thousands of calls from people in the community. Some of those are legitimate calls for service and true emergencies. Many however, have nothing to do with law enforcement. My experience is that people have a tendency to call the police when they do not know who else to call. Communications officers and 911 operators do an excellent job of weeding out the crap and sending officers to calls that truly require the attendance of emergency services personnel. It is challenging enough to attempt to calm a highly emotional person down in person in order to get information on what happened. It is a whole other world trying to do it over the phone. We often talk about a cop’s sixth sense. That gut feeling when something just doesn’t feel right. We tell cops to listen to that intuition as it may just save their life. Communications have that as well. They spend every working day on the phone listening to people and they too develop a sixth sense. They know when something does not sound right. When a communications officer relays in the call information that they have a bad feeling about this or that something does not feel right tell your officers to set their ego aside and PAY ATTENTION. That little nugget may save their butt.
Dispatchers do a great job of getting the right resources, to the right location in a timely manner. They stay calm in the face of chaos and turmoil and then after the event is over, when we are debriefing they are too often left out of the debriefing and left on their own to deal with it. Cops assume that because the dispatcher was not actually at the scene that the are not effected the same was as we are. Think again. When you ask a group of officers what it feels like to hear an officer scream for help on the radio and be too far away to do anything about it they say “Its sucks.” “It is the worst feeling in the world.” How do you think dispatchers feel? They can never go to the scene and kick some ass. They can however perform a vital service in making sure we get to the right place and they are often the lifeline to the officer until the troops arrive. Dig up the audio tapes from the Bank of America shootout and then try and tell me dispatchers don’t save cops lives.
In the early part of my career the communications center in Calgary was manned by cops and I did my rotation up there. As a result of working there answering phones and dispatching I have a huge amount of respect for the job they do. I also know that the citizens of Calgary get better service now that they got most of the cops out of the communications center.
Now dispatchers and communications officers are less likely than corrections officers to kick you ass for giving them a hug but you may find yourself in trouble for sexual harassment. So, call them and thank them for a great job. Drop by your communications centre some time and say thanks or drop off some coffee and doughnuts some time in the middle of the night. Also make sure to find a way to include them in both your tactical debriefings and your critical incident defusing and debriefings.
I will not be posting on Friday, December 26, as I know you will all be busy shopping for deals. Cops are cheap, I understand that and therefore will post Part 3 on this topic on Tuesday December 29.
All the best of the holidays to all of you and your families.