They Have Your Six

Michael Mendoza

No matter the agency, we all have the officer that complains that we are picking on them. We all know it’s mainly because it’s in their beat or sector or they are the closest unit. It’s also because we are too busy with pending calls to care if their feelings are hurt. A few of us make these officers feel our wrath by sending them from one side of town to the other, fielding every report under the sun. How many of us are envisioning the officer we want to do that to?

Ultimately, we all want every one of our officers to go home, and we all want to catch the bad guy and be the best dispatcher we can be for our residents, right?

In 2010, my agency went through some changes. Uncomfortable changes I couldn’t get past. My lack of maturity and perspective got me in trouble, and I decided to leave. A few years went by and I had to grow up. What I learned was that in the end, the only one that had control over my life and my future was me. I returned to the career I loved and from that point on I decided I was going to outlive the BS.

Seven years later, several people in my agency are unhappy and quitting. Reflecting on my unhappier times, I, like many of my current co-workers, would project the blame of my problems onto others, believing they’re picking on me. After this reflection I realized that every time I was acting out or complaining, I was being the jerk officer grumbling about my dispatcher.

On the flip side, one of our officers will go through calls, clearing them as quickly as possible, and we seldom hear a complaint. She just does her job. Unfortunately, we take advantage of this type of officer. Like her, once I was back in the headset again, I dove in headfirst, going above and beyond with every opportunity I could. I got overwhelmed. I was doing great at work, but I wasn’t doing so great at home. At that point, I decided I was just going to dispatch.

As dispatchers we are seldom thinking about the environment that we are creating for our responders. We’re constantly focused on our duties, forcing responders to milk calls to take care of their personal needs. That’s the environment we create. We’re focused on the task at hand and less on the hands that take care of the task.

We all have a dispatcher in our lives. For some of us it’s a supervisor, sergeant, or even the dispatch manager. We get frustrated because they don’t see it from our end. They don’t understand our needs. We fail to realize that they’re our dispatchers; not literally, but they’re focused on the task at hand and less on the hand that takes care of the task.

None of this is meant for you to go home and fix everything.

The purpose is for you to have a little more understanding, compassion, and perspective.

Understand there’s always another motivation but the end goal is still the same—to give the best service to the citizens that you are there to serve and protect.  

If you are the employee: You’re not just another butt in a seat, you are someone’s hero and protector. You have their six. Likewise, understand that your supervisor or manager (or whoever) is your dispatcher, and they’ve got your six too.

About the Author

Michael Mendoza is a Texas Master Telecommunicator with over 10 years in the industry and Texas Commission of Law Enforcement (TCOLE) certified trainer.

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