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Sheriff's Dispatcher's Performance During Big Bear Shootout

Dispatcher Elaine Barrie performed flawlessly during Chris Dorner's shootout with law enforcement.

February 19, 2013  |  by Los Angeles Police Protective League

Screenshot via CBS News.
Screenshot via CBS News.

Editor's Note: This blog post first appeared on the Los Angeles Police Protective League's website. The dispatcher has been identified as Elaine Barrie.

The past week has been emotionally wrenching for all Southern California law enforcement personnel. While we responded to the inhumane and morally indefensible violence caused by disgraced former officer Christopher Dorner, we joined with the entire community in expressing our grief. As our thoughts and prayers are now offered to families and friends of those whose lives were taken so suddenly, we also want to thank the unsung sheriff's dispatcher whose actions lessened the death toll and helped scores of officers and deputies in harm's way during the shootout in Big Bear.

Listening to the police radio traffic of the Big Bear shootout, you hear, "pop, pop, pop. pop, pop." There are too many shots to count. Several minutes into the radio traffic, you can hear, the female dispatcher broadcast, "Shots fired. Officer down." Later, a second, "Officer down," followed by, "Automatic fire coming in-bound," and "Officers still down in the kill zone," can be heard.

The chilling audiotape makes one thing clear: the civilian dispatcher did an outstanding job. She performed flawlessly during this critical tactical incident. Her calm and professionalism most certainly saved officer lives. Being a police dispatcher is harder than most people think. In this case, the dispatcher fulfilled her duties with unfailing focus, composure and expertise.

The incident underscores the essential role played by the dedicated emergency services dispatchers nationwide. These behind-the-scene professionals constitute a vital link to police officers every time officers leave their stations. Our dispatchers are always listening; we are always reliant upon them to broadcast our locations, respond to our routine requests, and when we need it, they become our lifeline.

We gratefully acknowledge the efforts and essential contribution of all emergency services dispatchers, but especially the San Bernardino County Sheriff's dispatcher for her work during this harrowing siege.


VIDEO: Gunfight with Chris Dorner

Tags: Dispatchers, San Bernardino County (Calif.) Sheriff, Chris Dorner, Gun Battles

Comments (12)

Displaying 1 - 12 of 12

Sandy @ 2/24/2013 7:14 PM

As a public safety dispatcher, we all know too well the potential for situations such as this. Thankfully, they are few and far between. None the less, it is situations such as this that illustrate not only the integral aspect a dispatcher serves in the day-to-day function on any Law Enforcement agency but the tremendous pressure one is subjected too. There is no more feared statement heard over a radio than those fateful words "Officer Down". Instinct tells you to react; to fear the worst; to wonder. Training tells you to ignore those visceral human emotions and get the job done. Relay pertinent info; coordinate resources; and maintain one's composure. When it's over - that's when your humanity has free reign to creep in and allow your body and soul to absorb what your mind just weathered. Kudos to the dispatcher handling this tenuous and ultimately fatal encounter. May she rest easy at night, knowing more officers survived this fateful day than those brave souls we lost. Heartfelt condolences to the McKay & Crain families. Much thanks to the SO dispatcher who performed as trained and the professionalism exhibited when hell rained down on that snow covered mountain. - Sandy U, PSR II, LAPD

ExChief @ 2/24/2013 10:13 PM

More than once in my lengthy law enforcement career my life was saved by a good dispatcher. It was my honor to run a dispatch center for the past 8 1/2 years. I continue to be impressed by the professionalism and dedication of our unsung heros in the dispatch center. The dispatcher in the SBSO incident did an outstanding job. There is NOTHING more she could have done or anyone could have done. I hope she is at peace with how she performed.

Retired Dispatch Supervis @ 2/25/2013 6:02 AM

Thank you for your service, you did an amazing job. To many times our men and women are put in compromising incidents and it is guardian angels like you that are their life link!

Ex-dispatcher @ 2/25/2013 6:27 AM

This was a chilling incident to listen to. Everyone involved did an amazing job. The intensity and seriousness of this incident is every dispatchers nightmare. Elaine you did an outstanding job.

SO Lt. @ 2/25/2013 3:59 PM

The performance if this dispatcher was nothing short of miraculous knowing her own deputies were down and in harms was she stayed cool and calm. I dare say calmer and cooler than some deputies I know would have. She is a outstanding example of the professional dispatcher. As was the dispatcher that gave the final 10-7 during Detective Jeremiah MacKay's funeral ceremony, there was not a dry in the crowd her composer was unbelievable. Our hats are off to both of them and all who serve.

Rancho Dep. @ 2/25/2013 5:40 PM

As an SBSD Deputy assigned to Rancho Cucamonga station, I have first hand knowledge of the outstanding work our dispatchers do. I am proud and grateful for their service and feel confident that they will always do whatever is in their power to make sure I come home safe everyday. I would like to thank my guardian angels and public safety dispatchers across the country for the job you do.

Cdn LEO @ 2/25/2013 6:27 PM

Dispatcher/call-takers are all too often forgotten while they work behind the scenes to keep us road cops as safe as they can by getting us critical and timely information we need to do our jobs and keep us and the public safe. I tip my hat to you all - thank you.

Lt Dan @ 2/27/2013 5:40 AM

Bottom line is that if you have a shift of the best street officers and an average dispatcher, you have headaches. If you have average officers and great dispatchers, life is easy.

Linda Busby @ 2/27/2013 9:52 PM

I was a 911 police fire ems dispatcher for 11yrs and I must tip my hat to this dispatcher. She set the stage for this radio communication by remaining calm. She was in control from the start. This could have turned out a lot worse. To the dispatcher who took the call great job and to the others working with her great job for running the test of dispatch while she did it.

Anthony Manzella @ 2/27/2013 10:32 PM

As an (old) gang homicide prosecutor, I never had any contact with dispatchers. I listened to this entire audio, twice. It is one of the most dramatic things I have ever heard. The woman (Elaine) handled the situation with the aplomb and intelligence that is just incredible. Because of her, I now realize how important dispatchers are (and have been).

Anthony Manzella

Ruth @ 2/28/2013 7:06 AM

As a former dispatcher, I understand the concern she had for her officers and the anxiety she must have felt. Great job MS. Barrie. We all know that dispatching is a thankless job and you have set a prime example of the tremendous ability dispatchers must have well beyond the normal day to day calls.

Kathy Culp @ 3/4/2013 6:16 PM

Being the mother of a Sherrif's Dispatcher here in Kern County, and the Aunt of two nephews who are both San Bernardino Sheriffs Deputies, (all though they were (gratefully) not involved in this shootout, but, were very concerned for their fellow officers). I praise everybody involved, and I hope the dispatcher's get commendations along with all the officers. It takes a village to take care of everyone, not just one person.

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