“We often forget those behind the scenes who are considered the heart and soul of any Law Enforcement Agency.
The personnel working in Communications Centers are the first line of contact, in the majority of instances, when needing assistance. As a police officer for many years as well as in Crime Prevention and Public Relations, I understand what Communications Officers go through, however the magnitude really wasn’t realized until I became a Deputy with the Camden County Sheriff’s Department.
The number of calls they receive daily is enormous, many from citizens who are in the middle of a personal crisis whether it is a civil situation or life threatening. I’ve been present in the Comm. Center when all the Communications Officers are handling one, if not two emergencies, and still must answer other calls coming in as well as radio traffic. During one instance while in the Communications Center, a woman called 911. She was hysterical. Because of the woman’s hysteria, the address and reason for calling could not be understood. Eventually the Communications Officer located the address and that the caller believed her loved one was dying. The Communications Officer kept the woman on the line, dispatched medical, fire department and deputies, all the while she could hear the woman’s spouse struggling to breath. The Communications Officer must maintain her composure to ensure that the caller receives the help they need.
Sometimes a Communications Officer may sound overly assertive on the phone, especially when trying to calm a distraught individual who is unable, due to their emotional state, to provide an accurate address or the reason for the call. The Communications Officer’s abruptness is misunderstood as being unfriendly. For the most part that is not the case.
When you come to the Sheriff’s Department to make a report, the first person you talk to may be someone from the Records Division or Communications. Deputies may have to come from the far reaches of the county to meet with persons wishing to make a report or who have other business at the Sheriff’s Office. During regular business hours, if it is going to be an extended period of time for the arrival of a uniformed deputy, one of the Administrative Staff will meet with you.
Camden County is comprised of approximately 709 square miles. There are 900 miles of county maintained roadway as well as City, State, private roads and roadways on Horseshoe Bend that are patrolled by the Camden County Sheriff’s Department, (Over 5000 named roadways that we are aware of). Camden County Communications also handles calls for 6 separate fire departments and mutual aid for all surrounding agencies including the Highway Patrol.
We have some great people behind those phones, radios and monitors. “The Camden County Communications Officers are some of the most dedicated people you will meet. Some of them being with the Division for over 15 years, one for 19 years. They work some of the worst shift hours that you could imagine and they do it because they love what they do. They are dedicated to helping their officers/deputies, EMS, citizens and visitors. Our Communications Officers must multi-task and are usually taking care of phones, radios and paperwork, all at the same time. The added stress is largely caused by actively listening to the caller for the purpose of getting them the appropriate help they need in a timely manner. They don’t expect awards for a job well done, all they want is a Thank You,” according to Linda Clemons Communications Supervisor/TAC.”