Dispatchers honored for work on Hawkins search
Summit County sheriff’s Lt. Brent Ball fielded several telephone calls from self-proclaimed psychics from around the country when a Boy Scout got lost in the Uinta Mountains last June.
"One lady called and she said, ‘I can see he’s sitting by a rock,’" Ball said. "Another one said he is by a big tree, by that lone tree."
Bountiful resident Brennan Hawkins, who was 11 years old at the time, was missing for several days near the East Fork of the Bear Boy Scout camp before a volunteer searcher riding an all-terrain vehicle located the boy near a lake.
Their work during the incident caught the attention of international media and recently the Summit County Sheriff’s Office was recognized as having one of the state’s finest communication centers.
"Any call that comes in we have to take serious. The last thing we want would be to disregard a call," Ball said about the Hawkins search. "We’ll get a lot of calls from people who said that they saw a little boy walking there two days ago or yesterday or this morning or whatever."
Roughly a dozen people called Summit County during the search claiming to be psychics, he added.
The Utah Chapter of the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials this month labeled the Hawkins search its "incident of the year," Ball said.
"There was so much going on at that time that they just felt that our dispatch center handled all the incoming calls plus all of our internal calls so well," he added.
For agencies the size of hers, Sheriff’s Office communications officer Tami Diaz received honorable mention in the dispatcher of the year category and county dispatchers were given honorable mentions for their work assisting officers at the scene of a rollover crash and a shooting in 2005.
"We were the only one that got multiple awards," Ball said.
Thirteen full-time dispatchers staff the Summit County communication center. None of them are sworn peace officers, Ball said.
"They certainly deserve recognition," he said, adding, "dispatch is absolutely the first responder."
In 2005, county dispatchers fielded more than 170,000 telephone calls, Ball said, adding that 911 calls accounted for about 7,500 of those.
Most emergency calls placed to the Sheriff’s Office are answered within five seconds, Ball said, adding that dispatchers answered 94 percent the total calls placed last year in under eight seconds.
Sheriff’s Office communications employees who were involved in the Hawkins search also included: Dana Shaw, Melanie Crittenden, Neil Simmons, Terri Peterson, David Petersen, Margaret Ward, Suzanne Mooney, Ashley Fugal, Sherry Carruth, Tanya Odenbach, Shonda Robertson, Chad Hoffmeyer, Jean Young, Christopher Mason, Sean Silvertsen and Janet Neitzke.
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Summit County heard from the Park City Community Foundation that the county’s $1 million grant last year likely helped hundreds of people avoid homelessness. The nonprofit’s representatives said open lines of communication were key to ensuring that grant money went where it was needed. | Courtesy of the Park City Community Foundation