Shock and Awe Chapter 9. Dispatch’s Point of View

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9. Dispatch’s Point of View

The entire communications center for police, fire and Emergency Medical Services, hidden in the second sub-basement with the consideration that the data center and dispatch were the eyes and ears of all units in the county. 

A modern, if overcrowded, electronic base of operations, eight stations, adjustable level monitors or keyboards for comfort. A dispatcher could stand or sit as he or she wish and use back saver seats that kept pressure points off of the back.

All in all the stations were ergonomic with colored displays that indicated on a map where each unit was and their status.

Red for committed to a call. Green for available, yellow, blue, white with red lettering all with various needs for out-of-service units.

Fire and ambulance shown on other maps with a supervisor with an overview option of all units. This made for busy screens, the supervisor alone had four screens available with touch screen overlays as needed.

For that early evening, it was a normal day, running warrant checks on simple traffic stops (A standard procedure). Taking complaints of dogs barking. One rancher in the midst of transporting his horses and cut a corner too tight and damaged a fence that separated the two lands.

Distorted radio traffic squawked over a channel into a headset plugged into a USB port caused pain the dispatcher, making he wince.

Carol ‟The Crush” Swenson, the designated batter and home run queen for the departments baseball team stood up and motioned over to supervisor.

‟Mike, can you come here please? I can’t make ou…oooww!” She ripped her headset out of her ear and unplugged it from the console. Hitting a button and playing it in loudspeaker.

‟…shot! We have doors locked in the foyer. We need backup now! Goddammit now!”

‟Where is that?”

‟That is Adkins on the first floor.”

‟Code-33.” Mike nodded.

‟Activate SWAT, tell them we have a shooter in the waiting room of the first floor.” He said pointing to Carol.

Plugging his headset into the USB port at his station, he hit emergency tones over the dispatch channel.

‟All units, code thirty-three is in effect. Emergency traffic only. All units code three-three. Active shooting in progress at zero main street lobby.”

Carol made motions with her hands, sign language between the dispatchers, an excellent group that had worked together and had their own  through several disasters over the years.

‟All units, emergency traffic. Shooting in progress at zero main street, police lobby. The lobby is locked down, backup needed from all available units. Fire and EMS are staging at six blocks away at Center and Main. All units respond on channel-two, channel one is emergency traffic only.”

The other dispatchers tapped in their patrol unit’s numbers on their CAD systems and dispatched every single unit were not already priority-assigned elsewhere. Only the priority calls were kept active.

Sheriff deputies. Six from the north county, four from the south. ETA given at twenty minutes and twenty-five minutes respectively, the units pushed the limits of safety at such speeds.

Police units from the seventy-five thousand population seaside city had ETA of two to fifteen minutes.

‟Mike, Fire and EMS is en route to the staging area.”

Concussions echoed through the ventilation system, huge booms rattled the building.

‟Crap. All extra staff out. Gwen, get your rifle.” Mike checked his sidearm and put on the holster that he kept in his drawer and shook his head, a quarter-century in dispatch, he never had the thought that the police headquarters would be a target for an attack.

The watch commander’s voice came up on the radio, she called for EMS to respond as she had officers down. Suzanne Irby’s eyes were wide, the little English woman was on the edge of panic. Only her fourth month on the job, she had not unprepared for this.  None of them were.

Officer Gwen Davies walked in with an automatic rifle and placed it next to her desk. She took a place behind monitors that watched the hallways. No one could walk down the passage without her seeing them. Ex-military, she would give them her own version of hell with her rifle.

Sitting at the north end of the dispatch room. She had, at one time when the architect designed it, an unfettered view of the doors.

In the years since, walls went up with monitors mounted to code requirements, the idea that no one would possibly ever penetrate to the heart of the police department had let the need for more equipment and displays create blind spots.

Without dispatchers handling all the phones, maps, different agencies and the computer indicated alarms that came in the emergency systems, the police units would be lost. Over the years, big screen monitors and maps, needed graphical displays installed in strategic areas so they could be seen, also created blind areas in the large room.

Considered as one of the most protected areas of the department, no access by the public, no chance for the security could be compromised.

Nobody could penetrate this far.

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