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Home News-Telegram News Give ’em a break: Police dispatchers often swamped by calls for city services on holidays

Give ’em a break: Police dispatchers often swamped by calls for city services on holidays

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It’s always nice to get a phone call over the holidays, to share a few moments with someone you haven’t heard from in a while and to talk over old times.

Unless you’re a dispatcher with the Sulphur Springs Police Department and it’s the Monday of a holiday weekend — those are repeated conversations nobody wants to go through.

Virtually all of the city’s offices are closed on Memorial Day, except for departments that provide the most essential services, like police, fire and water distribution. Even those departments run on reduced manpower, however, so more people can take advantage of the holiday.

But that also means that all the calls that would normally go to the main office at City Hall now roll over to the police dispatch center.

Sulphur Springs Police communications officer Jo Ann Gibson, who has drawn daytime dispatch duty this coming Monday, has been through the ringer (pun intended) more than once when the final day of that three-day weekend rolls around.

Judging from past experience, a lot of people try to get in touch with the various city offices on Monday holidays.

“She’s going to be swamped with phone calls Monday, and probably 90 percent of them will be for the water department,” said Nancy Stillwagoner, supervisor of the city’s communications officers.

There are times when it is appropriate to call about a water problem on a holiday. When a city water line breaks and H2O begins to geyser into the air, or a sewer main cracks and starts making a brutal mess, maintenance workers will be on call to answer such emergencies.

But dispatchers can’t schedule a time when the water can be turned on at a new rent house, or take water bill payments, or answer a complaint about trash service or any of the other countless inquiries that the clerks in the city’s main office field every day.

For now, Gibson and the other communications officers can only hope that local residents will remember to hold those calls about the water department until Tuesday.

 

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