Communications Officers Recognized for Critical Role in Keeping Our Community Safe
The Melbourne City Council has proclaimed April 9-15 to be National Public Safety Telecommunications Week in the City of Melbourne to encourage residents to honor and recognize the men and women who serve in the Melbourne Police Department (MPD) Communications Center for the critical role they play in keeping our community safe.
The MPD Communications Center receives, classifies and prioritizes calls from the public and dispatches the calls that require police or fire rescue response. It is a 24-hour operation, providing service seven days a week, including weekends and holidays.
The MPD Communications Center handles an average of 130,000 calls to 911 and 1 million push-to-talk radio calls each year. Communication officers and dispatchers are the single link of our police officers and fire fighters, monitoring activities by radio and providing vital information to ensure their safety.
One of the key attributes of Melbourne’s communications officers is their ability to keep calm and professional in extremely stressful situations. Beyond managing a tremendous number of calls, they often help de-escalate volatile situations and help police officers and detectives stop and solve crimes.
For example, last August the Communications Center received a call reporting gunshots and a gunshot victim arriving at the hospital. As the victim was rushed into surgery little was known about the incident. Moments later, someone called and made self-incriminating remarks to a communications officer and then hung up the phone. Another communications officer immediately called the person back and got him to keep talking about where he was and what had happened. Her calm demeanor encouraged him to stay on the phone until a detective could join the call. Thirty minutes later he agreed to turn himself in without injury to himself or anyone else.
This kind of calm professionalism and perseverance was critical during Hurricane Matthew – especially when conditions were too dangerous for police officers respond to incidents. At the height of the storm, around 3:30 a.m., two different calls came in reporting violent disturbances. In the first incident, one person was threatening another with a gun. The communications officer who took the call kept the caller on the phone, calming the person down and ultimately getting the two parties to separate. The other call involved one person threatening to beat another with a golf club. As with the first call, the communications officer who took this call helped de-escalate the situation by getting the two people to separate. When officers were able to safely get to the sites of the disturbances, they found all involved safe and both situations calm.
“All citizens owe a debt of gratitude to these unseen emergency responders for their speed, tireless professionalism, and commitment to caring for others,” said Melbourne Police Chief Steve Mimbs. “The public safety telecommunications personnel deserve our lasting respect and gratitude for their compassion and dedication.”