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Posted to Positives within Your City by Michael Churchill
Ever since I was a little kid I dreamt of becoming a Police Officer. When I first came to Colorado, I was amazed by the mountains, the way of life and the kindness of its people. As life took its turn, I came to live in the town of Rifle; As years flew by I stayed local until it was my time to serve my country in the U.S Marine Corps. Now, as my Four-Year enlistment comes to an end, I would be honored to come back and serve and protect the property and lives of both citizens and guest of Rifle Colorado.
Even before I left for my service, I knew, Rifle would be the town I would come back to and raise a family. Coming back to Rifle and seeing how fast it is growing and all the changes that come with a growing town, it is tough to see that drugs, theft and crime is also growing. Giving back to this community and having an impact on the positive changes will be a great satisfaction. Knowing that the community feels safe and protected when they see us patrolling the town and responding to their calls for assistance.
It would be an honor not only to be a part of this community, but also to be part of the great men and women that protect it. I am excited to have the opportunity to serve with helpful, knowledgeable and experienced officers; This will help me learn and grow as a person and as a police officer. Serving along with team oriented officers, that are doing everything in their hands to promote the peace, safety and the well-being of the Rifle community is what encourages me to be part of the Rifle Police Department. The Rifle Police Department offers many opportunities for me to continue to learn and progress professionally.
The experience I have gained while serving my country has given me the confidence I needed to become a police officer. It helped me to mature so much more and acquire skills such as; leadership, personnel management, decision making and critical thinking under stressful situations. I also possess an extensive knowledge of ground patrolling, security, surveillance, data collection, marksmanship and detainee handling. Skills that will help me better serve and protect the citizens of this city. While I was in the service I traveled to many countries and different parts of the United States. It was then that I saw that our presence makes people feel safe and protected.
Coming back to Rifle Colorado, I look forward to working for the Police Department, helping the men and women of this great department serve and protect this community. Knowing that the citizens of Rifle feel safe when they see us patrolling, assisting, interacting, and responding to their calls for assistance is a great satisfaction. Same satisfaction I had when I served and deployed with the U.S Marine Corps. I am excited to get a chance to work along the great man and women of this Department and have an impact on the positive change of this town.
Posted to Rifle Rapport/CT articles by Michael Churchill
Is your vision of an emergency dispatcher a person sitting in front of a single computer screen with a phone on the desk next to them? Or does it go back a wee bit further to Lily Tomlin and a switchboard? Well, both images are wrong.
A few weeks ago, I had the rare opportunity to tour the Garfield County Emergency Communications Authority, more commonly known as “dispatch” or Garco911. The Executive Director, Carl Stephens, was generous enough to allow the Garfield County Public Information Officers Group to hold our monthly meeting in their conference room. The facility is located here in Rifle. There used to be dispatch locations in Glenwood, Parachute and Rifle, but in 2001 they all combined into the one center here. Stephens explained that the merger saves a tremendous amount of money primarily due to the cost of staffing and equipment. The technical equipment needed for emergency response only has a 5-7 year lifespan.
Garco911 has a staff of 25 including 18 dispatchers. There are generally four on duty at any given time. They work 12-hour shifts with 3-4 days off. Garco911 has reciprocity with Grand Junction so if all lines are busy, the call will automatically roll over to those dispatchers. A person calling 911 will never get a busy signal. Dispatchers undergo 16 weeks of intensive on the job training which includes learning not only how to give clear emergency instructions, but how to coordinate the technical aspects of the job. They also need to learn how to handle stress and be capable of spending long hours in one spot.
One of the most amazing things about the center is the individual workstations for the dispatchers. They are large pods with 5 screens, 3 keyboards, 4 computer mouses and 2-foot pedals which help work the phones and the radio. It’s absolutely nothing like on TV where they have one screen and a telephone headset. A red light atop a pole indicates whether or not they are on a call so their colleagues are aware.
Watching them work is incredible. Although only one emergency call came in during our short visit, it was definitely intense. The dispatcher taking the call was simultaneously talking to the person who called 911, dispatching emergency personnel, receiving information yelled across the room from another dispatcher who was speaking to a first responder, typing into the computer and giving first aid instructions. The whole thing took multitasking to another level. The entire time during the call, the room was calm and cool and you would never have guessed what was actually happening if you had no audio. I was astonished and very impressed. The people capable of performing this job are in a league of their own.
Recently, the 911 system was upgraded. The upgrades helped improve the ability to locate where a call is coming from. If a call comes from a landline, the address will automatically pop up on one of the dispatch computer screens. However, the majority of calls these days come from cell phones which are, obviously, mobile. Improvements in software able to pinpoint location are critical for a timely response to an emergency. Texts to 911 currently get routed to Larimer County, but that will soon be changing as well. Interestingly, Stephens noted that they only receive a few texts a month. Most people still call.
The types of calls coming into the center vary, but all of the dispatchers on duty seemed to agree that between 4:00p.m.and 6:00p.m.there is a definitive spike in traffic-related incidents. I guess rush hour happens even in small towns! They take over 106,000 calls per year. Stephens did point out that many of those calls are duplicitous meaning they receive more than one call about the same incident. Anyone who has ever called 911 only to be told “we are aware of that incident” can vouch for the veracity of that statement.
Calling for help in an emergency has evolved a long way since the old days of dialing “0” or running to a neighbor’s house for assistance. This evolution was so gradual that we often take it for granted. Observing these individuals in action makes me extremely grateful not only for technological advances, but for the people working there. Great technology isn’t great without exceptional people who know how to use it and can stay calm under the most extraordinary circumstances.
The same technological advances that allow for quick response when you call 911 are also utilized to call you in the event of an emergency. Citizens are reminded to be sure to sign up for the Garfield County Emergency Notification System. This state-of-the-art system will notify you about an important situation in your area, such a fire or flood. It’s very easy just go to www.garco911.com to sign up.
Rifle Rapport is a periodic article featuring the people and projects of the City of Rifle. If you have suggestions for future articles, please contact Kathy Pototsky at 970-665-6420 or email@example.com.