Never A Dull Moment For Police Dispatchers

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A dispatcher's life on the job is never dull. Jill Van Camp, an eight-year veteran with the Payson Police Department's communications staff can attest to that.

"The Star Valley shooting (April 12) was a good call ... It went real smooth. (The victim) survived. My fear was she'd bleed to death before we could get to her. The reporting party was really awesome. I asked him to stay with her until we could get there and try to find out who shot her. If she had died before we got there, we might have never found out. He really helped out. He was so calm. He followed instructions. That day I went home with a really good feeling."

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Jill Van Camp, an eight-year veteran with the Payson Police Department's communications center, makes the multi-task job of emergency dispatching look smooth and easy.

The women and men who serve on the Payson Police Department's dispatch staff have more than 70 years of combined experience. This includes supervisors, part-time and reserve employees

With such a well-versed group of people in the communications center, it is no wonder that Police Chief Gordy Gartner happily declares, "Payson Police dispatchers are the best!"

Attached to the dispatch staff are Support Services Manager Della Bradley, who has been with the town for 27 years, and Communications Supervisor Irma Bramlet, who has been with the department for 12 years.

Kim Becker, the department's administrative secretary, is a reserve dispatcher, with five years of experience. Tami Rice is another reserve dispatcher, with five years of experience. Serving part-time is Alison Murphy, a former full-time dispatcher, with six years on the staff. Bradley said they have another part-time post that is currently open.

Over the years, Bradley has seen a lot of changes. She had a hand in helping design the communications center when Gartner was making plans for the new police building in the town hall complex.

The communications center was built with the future in mind. While there are normally only two dispatchers on duty at a time, there is space to accommodate two more, should the need arise to have four dispatchers on duty.

The facility is spacious compared to other, cave-like, cubbyhole dispatch centers. Bradley said. But the quarters are close enough that the walls practically vibrate with the hum of teletypes coming in, phones ringing, radio communications from officers, the hum of computers and a radio playing in the background.

At each of the primary dispatch stations, there are four computer monitors, plus a surveillance monitor suspended halfway up the left corner of the work spaces. There are two more monitors, quiet now, at the secondary stations.

Among the set of four computers at each primary station are the national criminal information computers, which Van Camp referred to as the DPS system.

They also monitor the town hall complex. It resulted in an incident that still brings tears to Van Camp's eyes.

"When we were in the old building (the current town hall), I witnessed a little child being left," she said. "It still makes me cry. I'd seen this car come up once that evening then pull away when a patrol car approached. It circled and came back and this little girl, probably only four or five, was pushed out by a woman who drove off. This child came walking up the sidewalk that was there (it's now a hall inside), clutching a teddy bear, a blanket and a note. The note said the woman was going out into the county to kill herself. We sent people out after her and Irma (Bramlet) and I held that little girl all night, until her grandmother could get there and take her," Van Camp said.

The woman, the little girl's mother, was apparently drunk, and the writing in the note became very erratic, Van Camp said. Unfortunately, the child's mother was successful in committing suicide.

Bradley agrees with Gartner's assessment of her dispatch staff.

"We have a good group of people," she said. "They don't get a whole lot of recognition because people don't realize what they do. A good dispatcher makes it look easy. It's not. It's hard. And we think we have the best."

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