A Chattanooga police dispatcher's life

A Chattanooga police dispatcher's life

December 3rd, 2011 by Andrew Pantazi in News

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 /Times Free Press.

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."