For the past several years I have taken a trip to meet with the developers and users of the software we use to monitor alarms.  This year the conference was held in Grand Rapids Michigan.  As usual Cliff Dice and his team at the Dice Corporation were exemplary and provided us with everything we needed to learn more about the software and use it more effectively.  I would like to thank the staff at the Dice Corporation for their efforts and would also like to thank EPS Security in Grand Rapids for hosting the conference this year.  They made us all feel very comfortable, allowed us to tour their facility and organized some very interesting activities for us. 


One of the activities was a tour of the 911 call center at the Grand Rapids Police Department.  We were given a guided tour and had the opportunity to watch the operators in action, speak to them and learn more about the tasks they perform every day.  The tour began in the lobby of the police department in front of a monument to the fallen officers the department has had.  It didn’t occur to me at the time but that set the tone for what I was about to experience next at the end of the tour.  They took in groups and gave us some statistics about their operations before letting us go into the center.  At which point we were allowed to walk around and ask questions.


At the end of the tour I was standing by the exit waiting for the rest of my group and happened to look up at a bulletin board on the wall by the exit.  A newspaper article on the board caught my eye.  The article was about twelve operators who work in that center who were recognized for their actions during a terrible shooting rampage that occurred in July 2011.  At that point my whole perspective changed.  I started thinking about the feelings and emotions they must have when they dispatch officers into very dangerous and potentially life threatening situations.  The gunmen killed 6 people, took 2 hostages and exchanged gunfire with police before killing himself.  If it were not for the actions of the Grand Rapids Police Department and their call center staff the outcome could have been much worse.  This experience reminded me how difficult their jobs can be and opened my eyes to some of the things that emergency dispatchers have to endure.  I have always admired them for what they do and I appreciate them even more now.   


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