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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Dispatchers ... The officers' backbone

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Randy Vater, a dispatcher with the Oregon County Sheriff's Department, said he enjoys dispatching but would like to be back patrolling the road. He said his experience working as both dispatcher and deputy helped him gain respect for both positions. Photo by Emily McIntosh
"You're like the backbone of the officer that's out there," Oregon County Dispatcher Randy Vater said about dispatching.

Vater is also a reserve deputy, reserve Alton city officer and Ripley County reserve deputy. Vater also has worked river patrol over the summer for the past seven years at the Eleven Point River. However, Vater said his main job is working as a dispatcher at the Oregon County Sheriff's Department. "I work part-time (at the other places) if they need me for extra help," Vater said. "I kind of stay around this area (Alton) because this is where my main job is at."

Since 1997, Vater said he has switched off and on as a patrol deputy and as dispatcher. He said the back-and-forth situation with the jobs lets him know both sides of the desk -- behind the desk answering calls and providing information to officers and out of the desk responding to calls and patrolling the roads. "You have a little more respect for both jobs," Vater said. "I've played both sides of the field, so I can relate to both sides."

In 2001, Vater began his training at the police academy. Sept. 11, 2001 was his first day of classes, the same day as the attack on the Twin Towers in New York. "They (those in Vater's class) weren't sure they we going to start the academy that night because of all the stuff that had took place, but they did have class," Vater said. "Everybody was just bumfuzzled by all the stuff that took place, and everybody wasn't sure what was going on or took to grasp everything that had happened and how it would affect our country in that sense. That was a big deal that happened."

"We kind of talked about (what happened) a little bit," Vater said. "But we all knew we had to get on with the class and get our training in because, you know, we're all going to have to train for situations that are way beyond us. We got to be prepared. So, either way you've got to do that part of it."

Vater currently works the 4 p.m. to midnight shift. "That's the time when stuff happens, four to midnight," Vater said.

"I've always liked dispatching," Vater said. "You never know what kind of call you're going to get from minute to minute. That's what kind of keeps you going. You never know what you're going to get into from one day to the next. The same thing (happens) on the road."

He said in 2002 through 2007, he slowed down at his job and decided to help his wife with her job helping disabled children. He kept his police commission up-to-date even though he resigned.

Now, he said he is looking forward to being back on the road. He said he is hoping that when a new position opens up for a deputy he'll take it. "I think that's where my heart really is," Vater said. "That, and I love meeting different people."

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