HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - In a small building in the Hub City, you will find the 'lifeline' to the Hattiesburg Police Department.
"They are our lifeline. They are the ears that hear the call and then dispatch it to our officers in the field. So, they are very, very important to the safety of our officers," said Major Hardy Sims.
Sims is the director for operations at HPD, taking care of dispatchers and telecommunicators in the department. Right now, Sims said there are 19 dispatchers, with one opening, for Hattiesburg Police.
"They need to be compassionate, they need to be professional, they need to get the information in a timely matter and then dispatch officers in to the scene," said Sims. "It is very important that they stay calm, and also to be able to calm down whoever the caller is as well."
In two small rooms, the dispatchers work 12-hour shifts, answering thousands of calls a month.
HPD said last year, the dispatch center answer 97,000 calls.
When asked is it is a stressful job, Major Sims had one answer: "absolutely."
"It's just as stressful as officers in the field," said Sims. "They get the call, though they are not in the field, they are the first person a person in need hears or talks to."
April 8 - 14 is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. To thank their dispatchers, Major Sims and Chief Anthony Parker presented a small gift bag with a thermos that read, "I'm a 911 Dispatcher. What's your superpower?"
"Just like it takes a special person to be an officer, it takes a special person to be a dispatcher or telecommunicator," said Sims.