Yesterday was my Friday … it was actually Wednesday, but it counted as my “Friday” because if was the last day of my work week. My shift schedule is Sunday through Wednesday, with 2 days being 8-hour shift days and 2 days being 12-hour shift days. And yesterday my trainer had a day off, so I got to head over to the neighboring county and do a ride along with a local police department and the county sheriff’s department – to get a better understanding of what they do on a daily basis, and (hopefully) that will make me a better call taker/dispatcher.
In the morning I rode around with a sergeant from the local P.D. – and pretty much had a guided tour of the town. We didn’t have any calls to respond to in the morning, so we mainly just drove around town while he kept an eye on things. Which was okay, because it gave us a great opportunity to talk about the town, the geography of the streets in the town, landmarks in town that people might refer to when they call in, etc. Oh, and we talked about the need to make sure call takers put apartment numbers/unit numbers in the addresses they send out. We had a caller that wanted to be contacted by phone, and she had left a message to be called back. But when the sergeant called her, there was no answer on her phone.
*** When you tell the call taker/dispatcher that you want an officer to call you back ASAP on a certain phone number … BE AVAILABLE TO ANSWER THE CALL ***
You see, this is why it’s important for us to do a ride along every so often. We get to see things from the officers point of view, and it helps us better understand their job. And this makes us better call takers and dispatchers!
Anyway, since we were just down the street from the caller’s apartment complex, the sergeant would have just gone by and talked to the caller in person … but the caller hadn’t given an apartment number, and the call taker forgot to ask for it. Mental note: make sure to ask for detailed address information when taking calls.
We did manage to make about 4 traffic stops, but only 1 ticket was written. Conclusion? The sergeant is a nice guy – if you don’t screw up too badly, he will let you go with a warning. Nice to know … next time I plan to speed, I will do it in HIS town. And pray that he is on duty. 🙂
About 1 p.m. I switched over to do a ride along with a county deputy for the afternoon. First we responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle alongside the road outside of town. Deputy ran the license plate, called the registered owner to leave a message about the vehicle being towed in 24 hours if it wasn’t recovered, and then tagged the vehicle. After that we went back to the station and Deputy (who is really a Detective, too) went over a few cases they were working on with a fellow detective. In the middle of that, he was dispatched to a domestic disturbance outside of town. So we hopped back in the patrol car, and responded Code 3 (lights and sirens) to the location. That was a rush! When we arrived though, the male had taken off walking and wasn’t around – so there wasn’t much that needed to be done, except to counsel the female to head to the county courthouse the next day to see about getting a restraining order filed against the male.
All in all, a good day – and I learned a lot. The guys I got a chance to hang out with were great, and very professional at their jobs. And they all had a great sense of humor – which I am learning is a requirement in this line of work. If you can’t “find the funny” in many of these calls, you won’t last long.
I can’t wait to go on another ride along with another agency! And I made both the sergeant and the deputy promise to come by the dispatch center and check out “our side” of things … and they both promised they would. 🙂