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Letter: Local dispatchers make a difference

Also, dispatchers must stay on the line with callers for certain EMS calls, domestic calls, fights and other calls which require us to stay in communication with the caller. If there are only two dispatchers on a shift and one must leave the room or remain on the line with a caller, the safety of both police officers and the public may be compromised. What if you had an emergency and there was only one dispatcher in the room?

Our Union Local 3443 is a group of well trained, capable dispatchers. We take pride in our jobs.

We are able to work most safely and efficiently when three dispatchers are working on each shift. Our work requires immediate response; every phone call needs to be answered, evaluated and dispatched correctly; every radio transmission needs to be heard and acknowledged; it can mean the difference between life and death!

We need our vacancies filled; we need our minimum staffing level of three on all shifts. This is for the safety of the public, our police officers and all other emergency responders in this town.

Consolidation of dispatch services with Albany County dispatch, which is located in Voorheesville, is also an issue which will strongly impact Bethlehem residents. The dispatchers currently working in our communications center have a combined total of approximately 140 years of experience in the Town of Bethlehem Police Department. Several are Bethlehem residents. Our communications center is located in the Police Department, giving us direct access to the police officers and administration on a daily basis. We have worked closely through the years with residents and fire and EMS personnel. We are aware of many special needs and circumstances and can provide important information to responders. The safety of our residents is of personal concern to us, because we know many of you as neighbors and friends.

At times we hold your lives in our hands, and that is an immense responsibility. We take it very seriously and consequently cannot support budget cuts to public safety. We hope that you will attend Town Board meetings and make your opinions known as budget cuts are considered.

Jennifer Peters Union President, Telecommunicators Union Local 3443

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