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ASU dispatchers ready to assist

April 11, 2007

Imagine a room that monitors the calls of a population of more than 63,000 people, where every call that comes in is a potential emergency situation.

The ASU DPS Dispatch Center is that room, and the dispatchers in it receive hundreds of calls a day. Fortunately, the majority of the calls are not emergencies, but they do come in at the average rate of almost 20 a day – and ASU dispatchers are always there to assist.

Brian Tobin, ASU's police dispatch supervisor, says it takes a certain kind of person to handle that kind of pressure. They have to be dedicated to public safety, able to multitask and very computer-oriented.

Tobin, who started out as an ASU police dispatcher 16 years ago, says most of the calls they receive are to report suspicious persons or theft. But the dispatchers also deal with a lot of alcohol-related calls at night, some of which are fight-related. He says he enjoys the opportunity to help people when they call in.

“I enjoy promoting public safety and providing police or medical help,” Tobin says.

Lori Cooper, who's been with ASU as a dispatcher for five years, agrees that helping people is the best part of the job.

“Everyone here is like family and would go head over heels to help people,” she says.

Cooper, who moved her from Oregon where she was a 9-1-1 city dispatcher for 10 years, doesn't regret the change.

“It's a little more low-key here,” she says. “I like the university atmosphere. For most students, it's their first time away from home. If they're in trouble, then I know our guys are going to be there.”

Sarah Randall has worked as an ASU dispatcher for three years. She got her start in ASU Parking and Transit, where she became familiar with the ASU police department through working with them at events.

“I like that it's not the same thing every day,” Randall says. “Every time the phone rings, you never know what's going to be on the other end. It's a rewarding job.”

She works day shifts but has often worked nights, and she prefers handling the types of calls that come in during night shifts.

“As a dispatcher, I like to be able to help in emergency situations,” Randall says.

And with that, Randall echoes the feelings that dispatchers have for the ASU community – they just want to help.

The ASU Dispatch Center is currently hiring dispatchers. To apply, visit the Web site