Saluting dispatchers at San Diego Unified School Police April 8-14

Posted: Monday, April 9th 2018


Woman in school dispatch with computers and headset

On duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, dispatchers with San Diego Unified School Police Department play a critical role in keeping our schools safe. During the second week in April, dispatchers from the district and around the country are recognized.

The National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week (April 8-14) celebrates the hard work of dispatchers and others who are the liaison between first responders in the field and the officers and staff at the San Diego Unified School Police headquarters.

"Our dispatchers play a critical role in keeping our schools, staff and students safe," said Capt. Mike Marquez. "We thank them for their service and commitment.”

Each year, they answer about 26,000 phone calls and process approximately 19,000 calls for service. During school hours, they not only work with sworn officers in the field and at schools, but community service officers and school staff. For example, with school safety always on the minds of site staff, calls are made to dispatchers when staff hears sirens or helicopters in the school neighborhood. The dispatcher will then contact San Diego Police, San Diego Fire-Rescue or other neighboring agencies to determine if an incident is in progress and steps need to be taken to protect children.

During non-school hours and school breaks, School Police goes into asset protection mode. Dispatchers monitor the district's alarm and surveillance systems at more than 200 properties. When an alarm signal activates, it goes to a central alarm station where a school police dispatcher processes the alarm. Dispatchers utilize the surveillance system, totaling over 1,400 cameras to scan for crime indicators, trespassers and suspicious activity. The dispatcher immediately reports activity to the proper authorities.

Dispatchers also have an indispensable role during emergencies. For example, during the September 8, 2011 blackout of most of Southern California and Arizona, emergency power at the district's police headquarters allowed dispatchers to keep in touch with not only individual schools, community service officers and sworn officers at schools and in the field, but bus drivers and staff transporting students to and from that day's after-school events. While the blackout began at around 3:30 p.m., it was 7 p.m. before the last students were delivered back to their schools, parents and guardians.

The San Diego Unified Police Department is a fully accredited police agency employing full-time sworn police officers, community service officers, and a full complement of support staff. While its primary role is to maintain order and security on and near school facilities, school police officers provide far more than standard law enforcement efforts. They also take a leading-edge, proactive role in creating a positive learning environment.

The San Diego Unified School District Police Department is recognized as a leader in school-based community policing. A big part of that success is due to its use of the latest in technological tools, such as state-of-the-art computer equipment, high-speed access to law enforcement databases and automated analysis and reporting systems.

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week is celebrated annually during the second full week of April. Dating to 1981, it was first designated by Congress in 1991

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