Police dispatchers charged with making the right call

DispatchersSource: Statesman

In almost 23 years that Lakeway police dispatcher Jennifer Menoskey has manned the phones, she’s learned to be a flexible listener. One minute, a parent calls 9-1-1 to demand the police drive their children to school, and the next Menoskey is fielding calls about a car wreck, a burglary or a suicide.

“Anything can come to you through that phone,” Menoskey said. “It can be as simple as there’s a dead animal on the road to there’s a four-car pileup on 620 with people not being able to get out of their vehicles. It could be a slow day, or (there’s) a pursuit, you just never know. It’s part of the intrigue of the job.”

Menoskey worked for the Austin Police Department for most of her career and retired before the Lakeway Police Department called her up to be the supervisor in their dispatch center. Chief Todd Radford said Menoskey is a “gem” to have on hand, and Menoskey said she likes that the pace is a little more relaxed, although the job is essentially the same.

A couple changes are coming to the Lakeway dispatch center, however. Radford is considering changing the scheduling for the dispatchers from eight-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts starting in February, and he’s “feeling pretty good” about the potential change. He said the change will better enable dispatch to always have at least two call-takers on duty.

“([Dispatch is] unique in the fact that it’s a 24/7, 365 operation,” Radford said. “We don’t know when catastrophe will happen. You can’t plan for that. A single dispatcher has to answer 9-1-1, administrative calls, has to manage the other agency we respond to which is Bee Cave, has to monitor the fire and EMS channel and anybody at the window … two people in the room is a good rule of thumb.”