They’ve fielded calls about raccoons under dumpsters, dead car batteries, crimes, and medical emergencies. One even received a marriage proposal from an intoxicated caller.
They are the University of Tennessee Police Department dispatchers who answer the station’s phone lines and serve as the connection between a police officer and a member of the campus community or public who makes a call for service.
April 14–20 marks National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. UTPD recognizes the hard work of our dispatchers who work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
UTPD dispatchers, also called police communications officers, work three shifts—7 a.m. to 3 p.m., 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., and 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.—to ensure that around-the-clock service is provided to the Volunteer community. UT Police employs 14 dispatchers, including two supervisors and a head supervisor.
Last year, 8,765 calls for service came in to UTPD through the dispatch center. The number does not include calls initiated by police officers or those related to traffic stops.
The work of UTPD dispatchers is critical to helping to keep police officers safe. When an officer responds to a call, dispatchers look up information about the person, the location, or the incident so the officer is more knowledgeable about what to expect or how to address the situation. Dispatchers also know the location of officers at all times so they can radio others to assist should an officer need help.
This week, we will introduce a dispatcher from each shift as well as a supervisor to give the Volunteer community an inside look into who they are and the work they do.
Meet some of our dispatchers:
Lola Alapo (865-974-1094, firstname.lastname@example.org)