The second week of the Glendora Police Department Citizen’s Academy brought many adrenaline pumping 9-1-1 calls and police pursuits into the training for the class. In addition to the chilling dispatch tales, eye opening privacy issues, laws affecting social media use by kids and adults were discussed.
Wednesday night was a dispatch operations class conducted by dispatcher Tricia Ayers, who discussed 9-1-1 methods and the prioritizing that must be used on a daily basis. In a sense, dispatchers often times while multitasking need to triage the needs of many residents at once.
In 2014 alone, Glendora Police dispatchers answered 14, 808 calls, usually only working in shifts of one or two. Joined by Ayers were Lt. Matt Williams and Cpl. Shawna Celello, both of whom work routinely to not only use all means of social media to keep residents informed, but to also guide kids on using social media responsibly.
Ayers, a 16 year member of the department, unveiled many suspenseful audio recordings from past 9-1-1 calls. Some of these included residents on the phone with dispatchers during in-home confrontations with burglars and a resident unknowingly approaching a suspect firing a weapon.
Listening to the audio, sometimes replete with blood curdling screams on the other end, it is easy to see what a tremendous task dispatchers have while trying to remain calm during such intense situations.
The class was also shown footage from high speed pursuits in Glendora, most of which had suspects traveling at high speed. Some of the intangible split second decisions that officers face during these pursuits, coupled with risk factors that the suspects pose to the community during flight, make each incident anything but routine.
It was evident that the choice for officers to end a pursuit is not black or white, but rather a large grey area when considering the danger to the public. On the other hand, these suspects may pose an even greater threat if not caught, so officers are constantly weighing the greater safety for the community.
Williams and Celello head up a program the department puts a great deal of emphasis on, which social media outreach.
There are five members of the department who have 24-hour connection to the social media platforms that connect police to the community. These platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Nixle that the city uses to publish crucial information to residents.
Nixle is a text messaging and email alert system that cities like Glendora can use to pass along time
sensitive information to your cell phone instantly. It is used by Glendora Police during extreme weather, major street closures or other times when the public needs to be aware of breaking news.
Simply send a text from your cell phone to (888-777) with just your zip code as the message. In Glendora for example, you would send “91740” or “91741” to 888-777.
Another aspect utilized by the department’s social media is outreach to our youth, educating students in our schools to using the platforms responsibly. The police’s social media team actively visits classrooms in our city to provide students with insight into anti-bullying and privacy issues that can come about if not used responsibly. There is some case law dealing with bullying and privacy laws that can put minors at risk for misdemeanors and even felonies in some cases.
For Celello, who is well versed in many of these platforms and a parent herself, this is of great importance to her.
“Social Media is not going anywhere. As police officers and parents we need to teach our children how to use social media effectively and responsibly. We need to continue to teach our children that with any privilege, comes responsibility. Monitoring children’s social media is critical for the modern-day parent,” Celello said.