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Time to recognize unsung heroes

We have so many functions within the Boulder City Police Department, from school resource officers to road patrol to the detective bureau. The work that they do keeps Boulder City among the “Safest Cities in Nevada” (newhomesource.com, alarm.com) year after year. One unit is the backbone of our public safety response: Public Safety Dispatchers.

Make no mistake: their work is more than answering phones. When you dial 911, you are connected to highly-trained individuals with expertise in taking a variety of calls. In a matter of seconds, the dispatcher is calmly taking information from the caller and deciding how to respond. They turn that information into action, sending police, fire and/or paramedics to the call for help. The safety of our first responders relies on the quality and accuracy of information obtained from those who contact the emergency communications center.

They are the vital link for our police officers, firefighters and paramedics by monitoring their activities by radio, phone or computer, providing them information and ensuring their safety. They help track down wanted criminals, control or extinguish fires, and advise on treatment of patients. Their ability to quickly and calmly deliver instructions (such as CPR or how to dislodge food when someone is choking) can be the difference between life and death.

Dispatchers in Nevada must complete a full background check, a 16-week safety course, and be certified in CPR, emergency medical dispatching, call assessment, fire dispatching and police dispatching. Certifications must be updated every two years.

These factors, as well as the stress of life-or-death situations, make it tough to recruit and retain good dispatchers.

Dispatch centers may receive repeated calls for help at an accident scene, as many passers-by call 911. Every call must be answered – quite the challenge when there are only two dispatchers on a shift. Much like other workplaces, when one person calls in sick or goes on vacation, it can be difficult for others who take up the extra work.

Boulder City recognizes these challenges and is entering into an agreement with the National Park Service to move our dispatch center into their facility. Our Boulder City dispatchers will work side-by-side with Park Service dispatchers. This would allow for overlap of trained staff, which can be critical in a large-scale emergency, as well as provide the resources and technology needed to enhance effectiveness.

It’s time we recognize these unsung heroes. During the second week of April every year since 1981, we celebrate National Public Safety Telecommunicators/Dispatchers Appreciation Week. This year, it runs April 14-20. Boulder City dispatchers show compassion, understanding and professionalism during the performance of their job. I truly appreciate their hard work and dedication.

The exact same week, we celebrate National Animal Control Officers (ACO’s) Week. Animal Control is a function of the Boulder City Police Department.

In Boulder City, Animal Control also oversees the animal shelter. In 2023, 358 domestic animals came through the animal shelter, either picked up by our ACOs or surrendered by their owners. A total of 237 animals were returned to the owners; 116 were adopted into new homes. Sadly, some of the animals that entered the shelter were too sick or too aggressive to be adopted and were humanely euthanized. This low rate qualifies our shelter as a “No Kill” Shelter (90% save rate qualifies). Animal Control also investigates dog bite cases.

Our ACO’s work very closely with Boulder City Police. Two weeks ago, BCPD and Animal Control responded to a tip regarding suspected animal abuse/hoarding inside a car driving in Boulder City. Their efforts saved 40 guinea pigs and rabbits held in luggage and plastic totes in the suspects’ car. Through the actions of our first responders that day, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police were able to recover more than 50 animals being kept in the suspects’ home and in a hotel room.

Dealing with distressed animals can be difficult, even dangerous. Our ACO’s handle their duties with utmost respect and professionalism. The efforts of our ACO’s are commendable, and I appreciate their perseverance and commitment.

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