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ASU Police Dispatchers provide essential service for officers, university community

Alyssa Karas
April 11, 2013

Dispatchers are the first line of contact for people calling the ASU Police Department. Issues that they deal with range from complex scenarios to problems that are relatively easy to solve.

There’s always a person behind the phone call, one of many ASU Police Department Dispatch employees who serve the department and the university community by helping to ensure safety when it matters most.

“Our Dispatch employees are a crucial first link to the ASU Police Department. Their commitment to assisting callers and officers in the field plays an essential role in providing a safe environment at ASU,” said John Pickens, Chief of Police of the ASU Police Department.

Two of the newest employees in Dispatch come from backgrounds that both involve police work. Tim Lafferty is a former Mesa Police Department officer who retired from the force after he was injured while working as a motorcycle officer. Alyssa Karas started her ASU Police Department career as a police aide after graduating from ASU with her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology.

Both share a commitment to making the university a better place through their work.

Karas patrolled the Tempe campus for 4 years as a police aide who provided assistance to officers on calls and responded to fire alarms and calls that didn’t involve a suspect. Traveling the campus on foot and on a bicycle, she enjoyed interacting with the university community and recently decided to learn a new aspect of police work through the Dispatch department.

“I’m loving it,” she said. “It’s completely different than what I was used to,” she said. Becoming used to being stationary most of the day instead of moving on patrol was an adjustment, but she’s enjoying the job.

One of the best things about the job is the satisfaction of being able to help people every day.

“That’s why a lot of people go into law enforcement,” Karas said. “I don’t like it when innocent people are victimized.”

Working with a college population is very different than what Karas would face if she worked in a big city.

“I like to think we’re incredibly safe. Our officers work very hard,” she said.

Tim Lafferty was employed at ASU Parking and Transit Services before he made the switch to the ASU Police Department. He has previously retired from the Mesa Police Department after serving 13 years there.

Working with the ASU Police Department meant returning to a structured and disciplined law enforcement environment, an aspect of the job that he enjoys.

“It’s an easy environment to work in for me. It’s great here because of the attitudes of the people,” Lafferty said. “Everyone up there in that Dispatch center has a great attitude. They create a very good working environment.”

That positive work ethic extends to the Command staff at the department who come in to ask how people are doing in Dispatch and take a genuine interest in employees, he added.

Lafferty also enjoys working at ASU where personalized service to the university community is important.

“Many students are in a new environment and may be coming from a small town … We want to try to make that transition as easy as possible. We want to give everyone who calls into that Dispatch center a solution to their problem,” he said.