Behind the cameras: Dispatch provides around-the-clock surveillance

by Robin O’Connor correspondent

Your primary interactions with Public Safety have probably been with the expert ID spotters who greet you as you enter Sweeting or Torrey-Gray. However, there is much more to the campus safety field than just checking IDs. There are also several dispatchers working hard behind the scenes who aid in making our campus a safer place to work and study.

Dispatchers’ work is much more covert from other officers. Their job consists of being underground, sitting in front of monitors, viewing security cameras and logging pertinent information, surrounded by radios and phones, ready to receive word from patrol officers or a call from someone in need.

Sometimes they do all of this at the same time, but their greatest significance is that they are constantly available. Any time a call is made to the HELP hotline, there is a human being there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Answering calls from individuals in need is no easy task. Public Safety dispatchers are responsible for getting information from callers and converting that into useful knowledge for personnel sent to the scene. All this must be done quickly, efficiently, accurately and compassionately as they maintain communication with a caller. In addition, the dispatchers must know codes and terminology that, while they may not be as complex as Greek grammar, are required in order to communicate among the staff.

The unique position of monitoring security cameras allows Public Safety dispatchers to survey the campus for any potential threats.

Monica Bigalk, junior children’s ministry major, has been working as a dispatcher for almost a year. She said, “[Dispatchers] are the eyes and ears of the officers.” Dispatchers inform officers of what is going on, enabling them to respond to a situation informed rather than with cluelessness.

The safety team as a whole is very much like the Pando, the largest colony of male aspen trees in Utah and the most massive single living organism in the world. Above ground, these trees look rather scant and unimposing. But beneath the ground and out of sight, the Pando has a strong, effective system that strengthens and connects the life of the whole, just like dispatchers.

Even though they’re not seen, dispatchers are crucial to campus safety. Public Safety Deputy Chief Brian Stoffer said, “They’re the hinge.” He said students who carry out this job have “the most responsibility on campus” as they must send alerts in an emergency and ensure officer safety as well.

Nothing is more comforting than believing your return to campus will be safe and undisturbed. We at Moody have people watching over us, not just for scary situations like  muggings, but even during minor annoyances, like being trapped in an elevator. While it’s important to maintain awareness of your surroundings, it’s good to know that somebody always has your back on campus.

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