published Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

A Chattanooga police dispatcher’s life

by Andrew Pantazi
Kim Krause, an eight-year veteran dispatcher at Hamilton County 9-1-1 Call Center, fields calls. Krause says that after she leaves work she pushes her daily calls out of her mind to avoid stress.
Kim Krause, an eight-year veteran dispatcher at Hamilton County 9-1-1 Call Center, fields calls. Krause says that after she leaves work she pushes her daily calls out of her mind to avoid stress.
Photo by Alex Washburn.

She started as a guard at Silverdale Detention Facility in Chattanooga, then became a mall cop at Hamilton Place.

If she could do it over, she would’ve gone to the police academy, but she knows her job’s important.

Kim Krause can think like a criminal better than most dispatchers at the Hamilton County 911 Emergency Communications District, and she knows how to tease her 19 officers and rein in what she calls their hero complexes.

Case in point on thinking like a criminal. On Nov. 22 about 8 p.m., a call came in to report a shooting.

“It’s probably a hoax call,” she said immediately.

The caller said there was a shooting, then hung up without giving a name or any details. Those are the tell-tale signs of a hoax, she said, but she still dispatched an officer to check out the area, warning him she didn’t think it would turn up as much of anything. She was right.

As for keeping her officers from getting too big a head, about a half-hour later, her screen showed a call coming in from an officer.

“You know what, you’re getting old and feeble-minded, and I understand,” Krause told the man. “You just want to go home to your wife.”

But that doesn’t stop her from sending the officer to Dana Lane to respond to a potential burglary.

Krause knows every one of her officers. She knows who has the Superman complex, who has what she calls post-war syndrome, who is a rookie.

She also knows every street her officers cover.

For example, an officer arrived at a Kangaroo gas station where a suspect was accused of robbery before running away. Without looking at a map, Krause said that, if this is a career criminal, then he knows there is a school campus nearby, a perfect hiding place.

A minute later, an update comes in from the officer, who said the suspect ran toward the school.

Although Krause knows her officers well enough that she says she can read their minds, that ends when her shift ends.

She leaves the Hamilton County 911 Call Center on Amnicola Highway and heads home to her husband. At work, she banters and chats with officers, but she learned on April 2 that it needs to end there.

John Stuermer, director of the Hamilton County 911 Emergency Communications District, had previously said that, because of the constant stress and high number of calls, dispatchers don’t often stay too long in the job.

“You have a constant turnover,” Stuermer said. “It’s a very stressful job.”

When she first started working as a dispatcher in 2003, one of her officers was Tim Chapin, then an 18-year veteran. She saw Chapin make sergeant a year later.

They kept in touch through the years as he stayed a sergeant and she stayed a dispatcher.

Then, on April 2, she heard that Chapin had been shot in a gunbattle at U.S. Money Shops at 5952 Brainerd Road. She hurried to work early, trying to figure out what had happened and later learned that Chapin had been killed.

It was one of the few days in her career that she couldn’t leave her emotions at the door, she said.

When the officers get Superman complexes, they acquire gashes and scratches and bruises and sores by trying to do too much and acting as if they’re invulnerable. To calm them down and help them do their jobs, she uses a monotone voice.

When she needs them to respond to a new call or finish what they’re doing, she uses her condescending-mom voice.

They know what to do by her tone, and she knows what to do by the tone of their voices.

“You can always tell when it’s bad.”

about Andrew Pantazi...

Andrew Pantazi is an intern at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who says that when he was 7 he knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life: play hockey for the Colorado Avalanche. Unfortunately, he says he wasn't any good at hockey, so he became a journalist instead. He writes about the lives we hide, like the man who suffered a stroke but smiled, or the football walk-on who endured 5 ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
mrs_porter515 said...

Great article Andrew! Thank you for taking time to showcase dispatchers in a positive light! Kim is one of the best!

December 3, 2011 at 1:41 a.m.
sassybbq said...

The main objective for a dispatcher is to make sure the public is safe but most of all that he/she gets her officer or firefighters or even ems people home safe...a dispatcher job is hard to do..just wish the public could see what they do on a daily basis ..I'm a dispatcher and I agree most officers have a superman complex but they have to..that's what gets them thru the day..and yes they are everyday un-sung heroes ..way to go dispatchers keep up the good work..

December 3, 2011 at 2:24 p.m.
mydixiewrecked said...

HAHAHA. Are you kidding me? There isnt anything better worth writing about? Im related to a dispatcher that works with this woman and I know their job is important and stressful, but really? Go write a story about the cry baby lady on Signal Mountain calling in because someone stole her Christmas lights. Who actually thought this was worth printing? Thanks for the laugh newspaper staff. Maybe next week we can meet the janitor at Erlanger.

December 3, 2011 at 11:35 p.m.
ashie07cole said...

Maybe we should see an article about the janitor at Erlanger. Heck, make a series of articles on under appreciated positions. Not that it affects small minded hateful people, but there are those of us who appreciate journalism trying to take a different approach and shed some light onto areas not many know about instead of the everyday gossip articles and crime reports. You did good guys!

December 6, 2011 at 11:11 a.m.
sassybbq said...

people just dont understand what dispatchers have to go thru on a daily basis...when you have to worry about not only about the public but also your emergency responders it puts alot of stress on a person...we (dispatchers) are considered a life line for if you think that a dispatchers job is not important..remember that the next time you call in for help...who else you going to call...and I say yes do a story on the janitor at erlanger or any janitor for that matter of fact...if we didnt have them..then i guess your office..bathroom...breakroom..etc etc...would not get cleaned..because you obviously think these jobs are beneath you...and lord knows you would not do it.

December 8, 2011 at 12:31 a.m.
mydixiewrecked said...

Who said a dispatchers job wasn't important? I just thought the article was over embelished. And would it hurt for them to put a decent picture up? She's not even wearing her uniform. If you read it again it says I'm relatedto a dispatcher. Married to one actually. I think I have an idea about what goes on in "carney's" little world. Learn some reading comprehension you idiots before attacking me personally.

December 8, 2011 at 1:38 a.m.
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