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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Dispatchers ... Keep things operating smoothly

Thursday, June 18, 2009

James Morgan, a dispatcher at the Oregon County Sheriff's Department, was a truck driver for 15 years before he went blind in one eye. He said he was lucky to find a dispatching job open at the sheriff's department. Photo by Emily McIntosh
Police officers who are out and about often rely on dispatchers to relay information to them about individuals at an accident or run vehicle license plate numbers. This information can be vital to any police officer trying to do his or her job.

James Morgan is one of the dispatchers at the Oregon County Sheriff's Department. He has been a dispatcher for about three years.

Morgan said he mainly runs the graveyard shift at the sheriff's department and enjoys it. "I like nights. It's quiet," Morgan said.

Among his duties are making sure inmates are fed well and helping the deputies with security in the jail. "They (inmates) are pretty good," Morgan said. "I can't question all the mistakes they've made. I treat them as human beings and they treat me back."

He also answers calls from officers who need him to look up information. "All the officers around here, they're really good to work with," Morgan said. "I have no complaints."

Before Morgan became a dispatcher, he worked the road but in a different way from what police officers work it. Morgan said he was a truck driver for about 15 years.

"I can't say I ever thought I'd be doing this (dispatching)," Morgan said. "I'm learning more and more."

One day on route, Morgan said he woke up and couldn't see. He was blind.

"I went to bed one night, I was in Sacramento, Calif., at the truck stop, woke up the next day and didn't have any vision," Morgan said. "Come to find out they (doctors) basically said I had a stroke."

"They told me I should be thankful that it wasn't any worse," he said. Morgan, currently, cannot see out of his left eye.

He said he was able to hitch a ride back home from Sacramento.

His wife happened to live in Alton at the time, so Alton is where he went when he could no longer drive. "I was thankful I got a job here because once I got here and looked at the town, I thought, 'Boy, I'm glad I don't live here,' Next thing you know, I'm living here," Morgan said.

He said living at home with his wife again took some getting used to because he was away most of the time with his truck driving job.

"To begin with, it was rough (being at home)," Morgan said. "You've got to understand, we were apart most of the time. I wouldn't be home more than two or three times a year."

But, he said they were able to work things out by listening to each other's needs.

Though he said he misses truck driving, he finds dispatching to be a learning experience. "I find it (dispatching) quite interesting," he said. "The more I learn the more interesting it becomes."

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