The lifeline of Burbank P.D.

Jackson Bell

If officers provide the muscle, then Burbank Police Department’s

Communication Center contains the vital organs.

The center is the starting point for all of the city’s incoming


calls, whether someone is reporting an armed robbery or looking for

directions to a restaurant.

“We’re the eyes and ears and heart and backbone of the police

department,” said dispatch supervisor Patricia Gilmore, one of 16


dispatchers who works 12-hour shifts three days a week and one Sunday

a month.

When a call comes in, dispatchers are required to determine the

severity of the situation and, if necessary, notify the appropriate

officers. They also handle “nonessential” requests, which can range

from car tows to parents inquiring about children out past curfew.

“Our No. 1 mission is to answer all the lines because we’re the

lifeline for all the people in Burbank,” said Lt. Roger Mason, the


bureau’s director.

Computerized maps were recently installed so dispatchers can

better connect patrol officers with the locations of reported

incidents. They can also monitor Police and Fire Headquarters from

three televisions on the center’s back wall that displays

surveillance camera images from around the building.

Despite the balancing act of answering calls, watching the city

and coordinating officer dispatches, Gilmore said the hardest part of


the job is dealing with people who are rude or critical.

“People get upset the most when you put them on hold,” Gilmore

said. “It’s not an arbitrary decision; someone getting hurt takes

more precedence than someone reporting an illegally parked car.”

But the ability to help others and the excitement of the job are

what keeps her interest after 21 years on staff.

“It’s never a dull moment,” she said. “Even though we are taking

the same kind of calls every day, it’s never the same because people

are different and situations are different.

“Then there are times that get stressful and I think, ‘Why do I do

this?’ But when I help someone out, I know this is worthwhile.”