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.