Monday, April 26, 2010

Sometimes I'm the Mood Police too

Saturday night at work and I am sitting the wild wild West. Not much that I can't handle going on, and then the state police line rings. Troopers involved in a hit a run, can I send in surrounding departments to look for the vehicle and suspects? You bet your ass I can.

What followed was slightly controlled utter chaos. We can't hear the state police radio - but they can hear me. Which means coordinating between the PCO at the police barracks, her troopers, my officers, and me. Phone. Radio. Radio. Phone. Assisting units have some vague idea of where they're going, but are in need of directions. Repeatedly. No, north. No, your *other* north. Local unit finds the vehicle in question, and gets a little too excited about it and gives me an intersection that doesn't exist and then doesn't freaking answer when I ask for a correct location, panicking my units that are racing to back him up. I take a deep breath, and calmly explain to all who are listening that his probable location is X street at Y avenue - and huzzah, the dispatcher is right.

I do my best to sound calm and professional because I know it can help keep a lid on the insanity level. If they calm down, they stop acting like retards. They stop acting like retards, things get easier. But, secretly, the inside of my brain is freaking out. It's making mental checklists of officers to yell at for speaking out of turn, giving wrong locations, and just generally NOT listening to what I am telling them. It's replaying the "officer in a car accident" scenario that is my personal nightmare. All the while, frantically trying to put order to this mess, and like attempting to fit an octopus in a mesh bag - something keeps popping out.

In the middle of coordinating three separate-yet-related things (vehicle and suspect #1, suspect #2 on foot, actual crash scene with suspect #3) I'm getting computer messages from other officers in my district -- "are the troopers going to the hospital?" "how bad was it?" "do you know their names?" -- all things, that really, I know can wait. I'm not calling back the PCO in the middle of all this to ask her to stop what's she's doing to relay information that is not going to help catch the bad guys. I balance that with the need to balance the "freak out" factor taking place in my district. They are all on edge. Suddenly I start getting a lot of traffic stops and "occupied suspicious" vehicle action. And I know that right now they need to know and calm down or my night is going to slip slide down the rabbit hole. So I call the PCO back, apologize for having needy cops (but she understands), and get all the extra information. Both troopers treated at the scene and released, it wasn't that bad, their names, and I pass along that everyone responsible is now in custody.

And just like that, we're back to normal. Amazing.


  1. I love the beginning of your third paragraph!

    It rings true for officers as well - if we can stay calm on the radio then the NCO doesn't think we're freaking out, even if we are.

    The most important time to stay calm is when the crap really hits the fan, and I regularly tell recruits to take a moment (if possible) and take a deep breath to collect themselves before bellowing over the radio.

    Kudos for what you do, Christine...our dispatchers are our life lines as officers.

  2. Thanks!

    It really is a calling, not just a job. I couldn't come into work every day if I didn't love it.

  3. we are really terrible when one of us is in need of help.