TPD sees massive increase in call volume

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 30, 2000

Staff Writer

April 29, 2000 10 PM

When calling the Troy Police Department, the first voice heard is that of one of the seven dispatchers.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

According to Webster’s a dispatcher is one who sends another "promptly."

They do that, and an whole lot more.

Sonny Howard has spent the past 14 years helping police officers and Troy citizens.

"There are just a lot of calls we deal with," Howard said.

In an average day, Howard responds to about 30 calls during his shift.

"I have had as many as 47 calls in eight hours," Howard said.

Sending officers to a residence or business is "just a drop in the bucket" of their duties, said Capt. Benny Jinright, who oversees the Staff Services Division that includes communications.

Howard said there have been times when he had the ambulance service on the phone at one ear, listening to the caller with the other ear and talking to the officer responding via the radio.

"A lot of times, there’s not anyone in there, but you," he said of dispatch.

In addition to sending officers on complaint calls, such as thefts and domestic disputes, dispatchers also answer alarm system signals and, now, have the responsibility of the early warning siren

The Troy Police Department is also the only law enforcement agency in Pike County that has National Crime Information Center capabilities, which means whenever the Troy State University Police Department, Pike County Sheriff’s Department, the Brundidge Police Department or the District Attorney’s Office needs information regarding criminal history, the TPD is the agency which provides that information.

"I reckon you could say, now, we’re up with state-of-the-art communication," Howard said of the technology that surrounds him every work day.

With all his duties, Howard’s main concern is protecting and serving the officers and public.

"My primary concern would be the safety of the person concerned," Howard said.

Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage said dispatchers "play a vital role in the public’s safety. Dispatch/communications is the life line of the police department."

Howard’s goal each time is to give officers as much information as possible so they know exactly what kind of situation they are entering. Doing that can keep everyone involved safer.

"I’ve actually heard gunshots on the phone," Howard said.

Like other dispatchers, Howard has listened to calls for help from upset individuals, including children, and had to sit and wait for someone else to take care of the problem.

"We’ve got some fine people. We’ve got some caring people," he said of his fellow dispatchers.

"If you don’t care, you need to find another thing to do."

Sgt. Benny Scarbrough, the public information officer for the department, said a dispatcher’s job is an "awesome" responsibility that not everyone can handle.