Campus Crime Busters: Student dispatchers instrumental to campus safety

BY BJ Poss
Elm Staff Writer

If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? If it’s something weird and it won’t look good, who you gonna call? Public Safety.

Public Safety officers do a great job of reaching each and every reported incident on campus in a timely fashion, usually balancing more than one problem at a time. When students call on Public Safety for assistance, whether it’s regarding getting locked out of a room, a car battery dying, or the need for an ambulance on the spot, Public Safety dispatchers are on the other end of the phone to relay the message. When the professional dispatchers are not around after hours, Washington College Public Safety calls on the student dispatchers, who sacrifice a great deal of time to be working until midnight during the week and 2 a.m. on the weekends.

These students don’t get nearly enough credit for the dedication that they have for their “very challenging job,” said Jerry Roderick, the head of Public Safety.

The students’ job description includes taking phone calls, logging all activity by Public Safety, and relaying messages to the officers about where they are needed at all times, among other tasks. This is a very taxing job to say the least, and as the Operations Supervisor Susan Golinski said, “the job is not for everyone.”

Many student dispatchers have experience with or interest in law enforcement. Head dispatcher sophomore Sarah Reihl is a native of Chestertown who spent a lot of time in WC’s Public safety office as a child, accompanying her father to work.

“I loved the atmosphere there,” she said. “The people are friendly and I decided if I was going to apply [for a job] anywhere, it should be there because they’re the most welcoming people on campus.”

Golinksi said that every year an “overwhelming” number of students are interviewed and evaluated for the job, and not everybody makes the cut. Roderick believes that they have picked out “the cream of the crop,” and is very pleased to watch his employees grow and flourish over their four years at WC.

Roderick and Golinksi agree that these students are somewhat forgotten about in the large scheme of things, which is unfortunate since they are such a vital component of the Public Safety team.

“You’d be amazed of some of the situations that these students get put into,” said Roderick.
Reihl agrees.

“It’s honestly a lot more hard work than people think it is. People think you sit there and you talk to the officers and type on a computer, but we really do much more. You’re the officers’ link to what’s going on,” she said.

These employees are needed for any type of emergency, which is often when they seem to step up the most. In preparation for any kind of natural disaster such as a blizzard, the earthquake last year, or even as recent as Hurricane Sandy, Public Safety gets extremely chaotic with the phones ringing off the hook and numerous incidents going on at one time. These are the moments that normally even a lot of the students off-duty come in and help any way they can, knowing the importance of the situation.

The dispatchers’ willingness may also come from their close bond.
“We really become a family,” Reihl said.

“You really just don’t know what each and every day is going to bring,” said Golinski.
This “very close unit” of 15 students are the ones that keep Public Safety going at the most instrumental times These students may blend into campus when they are not on duty, but don’t be fooled; these students dispatchers are extremely vital to what Public Safety is to all of the campus community.

“It’s a great job and I love it,” Reihl said.

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