Put a bunch of street cops in a room for any period of time and it’s bound to be a topic of conversation eventually. We’ve all had our share of good and bad ones, and there are plenty that fall into the in between category. The bad ones get a lot more airplay because, frankly it’s more fun to bitch and complain.
It doesn’t matter if you call them RTO’s, communicators, or dispatchers; they connect available resources to emergencies in our communities. They always tell us what to do and where to go, especially when the duty belt hits the restroom floor for a much needed session of 4.5″ x 4.5″ paperwork.
I’ve had my fair share of experience with our brothers and sisters that answer 911 calls and send us to them. Although the names change, after a while it’s easier to pick up on some personalities behind the microphones. Here are 10 of the most common ones I’ve worked with so far in my career.
- The “I wasn’t really listening; can you repeat your last”?
Ok, so I’ve never actually had a dispatcher come right out and say they weren’t listening, but after you have to repeat yourself every time you speak it becomes pretty evident. Multitasking is a skill that I’ve seen more than a handful of young coppers struggle to master, so it’s easy to understand why a dispatcher would occasionally miss radio traffic while doing all of the things they are required to do. Just not every time. Put down the knitting needle and mute the soap opera for God’s sake.
- The human repeater.
The human repeater is the exact opposite of the “repeat your last” communicator. He or she will repeat every word uttered on the radio by any officer who spoke. It’s all well and good on shifts that are slow, but when the call log is backing up and we’re busy it can tie up precious air time-and get pretty damn annoying.
- The detective/dispatcher.
As soon as a call hits the screen the detective/dispatcher’s wheels start turning. With every piece of information that is gained the detective/dispatcher will begin checking internet search engines, social media and the like to try and get as much of a back story as possible on the call for service. No one asks the detective/dispatcher to do these things, but at least once or twice a shift he or she will ask an officer to call in for information that is typically non-essential.
- The tone deaf.
The tone deaf RTO has no idea that he or she sounds like they are scolding everyone they speak to on the radio, it just happens. It’s like his or her voice is stuck in CAPS LOCK. Usually the tone deaf RTO ends up getting officers on the defensive, and small arguments begin on the radio all because it sounds like the officer is being acoustically accosted.
- The jargon king/queen.
Usually this one really wants to be on the other end of the radio, and he or she may eventually become an officer. However, while he or she is sitting at a radio console some pretty random radio codes or abbreviations will spew forth. For the most part we’re a plain-talk agency, but some short hand codes still get used on the air. The jargon king/queen just seems to be trying too hard to coin new ones.
- Mr./Ms. Mispronunciation.
We all have some words we don’t like to say because we jumble the pronunciation if we aren’t concentrating. When the officers find those words, they’ll goad Mr./Ms. Mispronunciation into saying them just for a laugh. Take the automobile manufacturer Mitsubishi for example. I’ve heard more than one dispatcher botch it into something like “Mistabitchi” on a suspect vehicle. Once it happens, at least one officer will ask for the make and model of the vehicle to be repeated.
- The throat clearer.
Every time the throat clearer keys up a microphone, he or she will emit a short cough before transmitting. It’s almost like an alarm that has no “off” switch. If you hear the cough enough on a shift you’ll show up at the communications building with a bag of throat lozenges just in an attempt to make it stop. But it won’t.
- The mouth breather.
A close cousin of the throat clearer, the mouth breather will exhale loudly into the microphone during every transmission. Every. Transmission.
- The omit-er.
The omit-er has a bad habit of not providing all of the pertinent
information on calls, which is especially bad if one of the parties in a disturbance is waiving a firearm at the other person or people involved and the responding officers have no clue beforehand. Brevity is great, just don’t get me killed because you were trying to be quick on the radio. Jackass.
- The superstar.
The superstar may have moments that aren’t so super on rare occasions, but it’s so few and far between that no one ever notices. This communicator remains calm no matter what is going on and seems to anticipate what needs to happen next. He or she will speak in an even, reassuring tone even when his or her heart is racing. The superstar will do everything possible to bring everyone home safe at the end of the shift. Every officer begins a shift hoping to hear the superstar on the other end of the radio.
I don’t envy the men and women who sit behind the communications consoles in the least. They get to deal with the public on the telephone and the men and women who respond to those calls on the radio. The good ones truly do everything they can to keep us safe. Thankfully, the other ones don’t typically last too long here in the Donut.
Feel free to add the ones I missed in the comments section, and stay safe out there!
It’s time to go patrol the Donut…