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Dispatcher gets commendation

Posted: Wednesday, Apr 6th, 2011

Photos by Heather Young

Rebecca Romero is one that many people don’t know, but may have talked to if they have ever called 911 or the police department.

Romero is a Support Service Technician, also known as a dispatcher, for Atascadero Police Department and handles calls both to 911 and to the non-emergency police line. She dispatches for both the police and fire departments.

“The job of dispatching — really they are our unsung heroes,” San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said. “The responsibility is great. They rely on Rebecca to relay important information ... it is an important role.”

Acting Chief of Police Stephen Gesell said that dispatchers perform two main functions — call taking and dispatching —but also do records in between.

Romero was recognized at the March 22 city council meeting for her job as dispatcher on Christmas night after two people were murdered near Santa Margarita.

“Rebecca did a phenomenal job of monitoring and tracking all of the information that was broadcast on multiple channels from allied agencies and relaying relevant information to all APD officers on duty,” Gesell said. “Additionally, she took the initiative to query our records management system and ultimately uncovered and shared vital information regarding the suspect with APD personnel and neighboring agencies engaged in the search.”

He said because of the information Romero provided, APD officers were dispatched to a subsequent scene of violence that involved the same suspect from the Santa Margarita murders and led to the suspect being taken into custody.

“Rebecca managed the 911 call, dispatched officers to the scene and made notifications to allied agencies in an efficient and professional manner,” Gesell said at the meeting. “It is for this reason that we are honoring Rebecca Romero this evening.”

Romero has worked for APD since October 2010, when, Gesell said, APD “stole” her from Santa Maria Police Department. She was a dispatcher in Santa Maria for three and a half years.

She said she went to work at Santa Maria PD because when she was looking for a full time job, it was the only place that had a full time position open. When she got hired at SMPD, she had been working at the Paso Robles Police Department for eight months on a part-time basis.

She also received the International Foot Printers’ Association APD Dispatcher of the Year.

“I think her performance really exemplifies the level of talent we have in the dispatch center,” Gesell said and added that it’s a “critical, critical role they serve in the city. [The job] required them to multi-task.”

Romero is a 2000 Atascadero High School graduate and said she was born and raised in Atascadero. She said it was tough decision for her to decide to change jobs from Santa Maria to Atascadero.

Initially, she said she applied for a contract part-time position to work on top of her fulltime job in Santa Maria, which she commuted to each day from Atascadero.

It was at that time that the then-chief, Jim Mulhall, talked to her about working full time at Atascadero. So she chose to work full time at APD and work per diem at Santa Maria PD.

“It came down to a number crunch and spending more time with my family,” Romero said. “It’s just easier to be closer to home.”

Romero is married to Rodrigo Romero and has three sons, who are 7, 4 and 18 months.

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