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Not sure if this is the right career for you? No background in law enforcement?

Many of our 9-1-1 operators were in similar shoes before they joined the Sheriff's Office. Whether they took the job out of curiosity or a desire to make a difference, they've stayed on for the challenge, camaraderie, and rewards.

Read on... you'll discover people a lot like you enjoying fulfilling careers as 9-1-1 operators.

Kathryn Barnes was working for a bank in Seattle when she saw an advertisement for communications specialists in the paper. She was looking for a new career, with work she would find exciting and meaningful. Kathryn has now been with KCSO for  almost 17 years and says every call is a unique, new challenge, as you never know what to expect.

 

“I was drawn to this job because it was something I could do to make a difference. Plus,” she adds with a laugh, “it also required two things I’m good at: typing and talking!” Seriously, Kathryn genuinely likes talking to people and enjoys making sure they receive the same level of service she would like if she were in their position.

 

Kathryn recalls one incident in which a victim could not tell her what was happening because the suspects were in the same room. Kathryn used her skills to ask questions that the victim could answer without letting on that she was talking to a 911 operator. The information she gathered helped deputies respond quickly and may have saved the victim’s life.

 

Kathryn finds satisfaction in knowing she has helped people through the worst moments of their life, when they were paralyzed by fear or sorrow. “Sometimes the caller just needs a kind word or someone to think for them, or just be there on the line while they compose themselves.”

April Gallagher is another 9-1-1 operator who came to the Sheriff’s office without a background in law enforcement. She had worked in the restaurant business for 12 years, and has been a part-time real estate agent for the past two years. She possesses a degree in cellular and molecular biology.

April’s greatest satisfaction is helping people. “When people call in it’s usually not for a good reason, and they are most likely having a bad day,” she explains.

This job has taught her to realize that she should always be aware of her surroundings, and what street you are on. April notes that many callers do not know their location, and that “you never know when it will help save you, or someone else’s life.”

 
"I have been a call receiver for KCSO for just over 6 years.  This was a job I had never thought about until I saw the the job opening while searching King County jobs online. 
 
I served 13 years in the U.S. Coast Guard before being medically retired after sustaining injuries during an accident at Marine Law Enforcement Training.  While in the USCG I was involved in Search and Rescue operations both from the surface vessel side and from shore side.  I served on 3 ships and did a four year tour at Group Astoria Oregon as a SAR Mission Controller.  I then went to the University of Arizona for 5 years where I studied Astronomy and Physics. 
 
From there my wife, two kids and I moved to Anchorage, AK to be with my parents who were having some medical issues.  We then moved back to the Seattle area just before 09/11/2001.  I was out of work and looking for something I could make a career of.  I saw the job opening for a "Communications Specialist" with the KCSO.  After reading the job description I remember thinking that the experience I had professionally in my life would benefit me as a 911 operator. 
 
The training was rigorous but exciting too.  It is very demanding talking to people who are quite possibly having the worst day of their lives and others who are in serious danger.  It is also extremely rewarding and satisfying to know that I play an important part in getting help to these people.  In this job, no two days are ever the same and no two calls are ever the same.  One moment you can be talking to a larceny victim and the next call can be a bank robbery or shooting.  You have to be constantly alert and ready for action. "
 

Tracy Nill joined KCSO out of mere curiosity, but has stayed for over a decade because of the camaraderie she feels with both her fellow dispatchers and the officers in the field. She enjoys the challenge of multitasking the various radio channels, the officers under her care, and often a phone call. A self-described “adrenaline junkie,” rarely a day goes by she doesn’t feel like she earned her pay.

“I love coming to work every night not knowing what my shift will have in store for me,” says Tracy. “The challenge of the unknown is one of the things that keeps me so interested. When a K9 track ends with the wanted subject in custody, I can shed a sigh of relief and smile right along with everyone else involved.

Knowing she makes a difference every day is what keeps Tracy coming back year after year. “I can honestly say that the fulfillment I experience every day performing this job and the camaraderie of the group make this job exciting.”