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
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
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.”