Sergeant Michael B. Webb
Kentucky State Police
Public Affairs Branch
Office (502) 782-1780
KSP Dispatchers Answer The Call
Date of News Release: 04/09/2013
(FRANKFORT, KY.) -- April 14-20 is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, a time set aside to recognize the more than 200,000 individuals throughout the U.S. who play critical roles in the delivery of public safety services. Often called the "unsung heroes of public safety," these men and women provide a lifeline to both citizens in need and officers in the field. They serve as an unseen, but vital link in keeping law enforcement officers and the public safe at all times of the day or night.
The Kentucky State Police employs 185 telecommunicators at its 16 posts throughout the state. In 2012, they answered a total of 555,123 requests for assistance. The following two incidents illustrate the impact these dispatchers can have in the performance of their daily duties.
Telecommunications Supervisor Marty Broaddus was working at his console in the radio room of KSP Post 7 in Richmond on the morning of Nov. 21, 2011 when he received a teletype from the Madison County 911 Center. A triple shooting had occurred in Berea.
"The teletype indicated that the suspects had fled the scene and were armed with two high powered rifles and a handgun," Broaddus remembers. "We immediately notified all available troopers, commercial vehicle enforcement officers and surrounding agencies about the incident and provided a vehicle description which was limited to a dark colored passenger car."
The community of Berea was on edge during the incident. Nearby schools were locked down and, at one point, it was erroneously reported that the suspects had entered the local hospital.
As on-scene investigators interviewed witnesses who identified the suspects, additional information flowed into the radio room.
"Julia Hicks, our criminal intelligence analyst, was able to obtain several possible cell phone numbers for the suspects," says Broaddus. This led him to contact several mobile communications providers for help.
"After one of the cell phones was activated, we focused on that signal," Broaddus explains. "I received updates from the providers in five minute intervals and was able to use the U.S. Geological Survey Earth Explorer website to map the coordinates and visualize the location of the signal."
The first coordinates were just off I-64 in Frankfort and law enforcement agencies in the area were notified.
"We really had to pay close attention to all of the information coming into our radio room," says Broaddus. "We had to be forward-thinking. Just keeping up with the signal was not good enough. We had to figure out the location, direction of travel and get ahead of them."
Finally, Broaddus narrowed down the suspects' location to a parking lot in Louisville. The Louisville Metro Police Dept. was notified and, after a brief pursuit and standoff, the suspects were taken into custody.
According to Broaddus, one of the hardest parts of this five-hour incident was keeping up with the volume and flow of information coming into the communications center.
"It was a rather daunting task to manage the details of this incident while answering other calls for service, handling troopers' requests and criminal history inquiries as well as making sure everything was documented properly," he explains. "Dispatcher Darrell Melton and I were able to keep up, but we were sure glad to see Shift Supervisor Connie Taylor who came in to assist."
Ultimately, this incident was successfully resolved due to the efforts of many people working together. From dispatchers and officers with agencies across the state to private cell phone providers, everyone did their part.
"The diligence and professionalism displayed by everyone involved was truly commendable," concludes Broaddus.
Samuels received a call from a motorist on I-64 who was unable to slow her vehicle down.
"She was frantic," Samuels recalls. "She had two children in the vehicle with her and was crying. She was also heading towards a construction zone."
"At one time, the vehicle was traveling around 90 miles per hours," Pierce adds.
Samuels kept the driver on the phone, tried to calm her down and alerted troopers of the situation, continually updating them on her speed and location. Pierce covered other phone lines, handled radio traffic and started researching ways to stop the vehicle. She even contacted the vehicle manufacturer for help.
"We tried offering solutions to make the car stop, like turning the ignition off, putting it in neutral, even putting her toe underneath the gas pedal and pulling up. None of it was working," Pierce remembers.
Samuels was still in contact with the driver as troopers caught up with her. With Samuels' help, they were able to match vehicle speeds, pull in front and forcible stop the vehicle without any injuries.
For Samuels, who has since moved on to new duties at KSP headquarters, and Pierce, who is now a telecommunications shift supervisor at Post 12, the incident was stressful, but had its benefits. "It's rewarding to know you have done something good when you're able to help someone who legitimately needs it," she says.
To view KSP TV, you can follow this electronic link: http://youtu.be/NzGOaQDdXfw For more information about KSP TV, contact the Public Affairs Branch at (502) 782-1780.