From quiet to chaos, dispatcher Melissa Call works with ‘her officers’

Steve Bushong

Melissa Call, also awarded employee of the year, works off of six monitors displaying everything from 911 calls to officer locations. AMANDA SOWARDS | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

As Officer Jeff Futo packs up to go home, dispatcher Melissa Call has just begun her shift, and, as usual, she has no idea what to expect.

“You never know, it could busy or there could be not a thing,” Call said. “It could be 3:30 in the morning and all this random stuff happens.”

Friday night has been quiet so far, and she and the other dispatcher, Kathleen Wills, begin their shift together with jokes and conversation as they catch up on managerial duties.

Dispatchers serve as the deputy clerks for the court, handle emergency and non-emergency telephone calls and serve as liaisons between the public and police officers.

“The beginning of the night is very tedious,” Call said. “You want to know what’s going on and who’s where just in case it does get busy.”

Call is responsible not only for Kent State officers, but she dispatches the police in Brimfield Township as well.

As the next shift of officers finish up their roll call in the next room, they say goodbye to Call and Wills and head to the streets.

Call refers to the officers as “her officers,” which is indicative of the responsibility she has while they’re on patrol.

She gathers information for the officers on five LCD monitors. She analyzes the information given to her and records or reports it to whichever destination is intended, all in one breath.

She handles the responsibility, as co-workers wrote when they nominated her for employee of the year, with finesse and a positive attitude.

The clock ticks seconds away, and the night remains calm.

“Sometimes our officers like to pull lots of traffic stops, and they like to do it all at once,” she said while waiting for action.

And then, just passed midnight, a 911 call is received.

It’s a hang-up. Nevertheless, two cars are dispatched to the call’s location.

Unit 330 soon radioed in, “No cause for concern,” and the night continued.

Call graduated from Kent State in 2004 with a degree in history and was hired as full-time dispatcher a little over a year ago.

She plans to work on a master’s degree, and maybe apply to be a police officer.

Contact safety reporter Steve Bushong at [email protected].