In recognition of National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week which takes place this year from April 10th through the 16th, NICE will be publishing the stories of some of our previous PSAPs’ Finest Award winners. Below is a story on Cassandra Dudley-Whitfield, a Communications Operator for the Phoenix Police Department.
Cassandra was nominated for PSAPs’ Finest Telecommunicator of the Year by her supervisor, Katrina Klein, for her outstanding police work on the evening of March 25, 2013. On that evening, Cassandra was working in the 9-1-1 center as a relief operator. One of the most important skills for a relief operator is to be able to take over a frequency, quickly assess what’s needed, and follow and respond to the radio traffic in a matter of seconds. Cassandra was attending to a call of a possible shooting of an 8 year old girl. Cassandra was listening to the call being dispatched. When the officers arrived they immediately made contact with a suspect who gave false identification. The officers radioed back to the dispatcher to run a check for any outstanding warrants. But before the results could come back, the suspect started to fight with the officers and managed to flee the scene, jumping from a 2nd floor balcony. Immediately, a perimeter was established.
A short time later, Cassandra became aware of several calls from witnesses in the vicinity of the original shooting call. The witnesses stated that they had seen a suspicious suspect running through the neighborhood, yet the searching officers had no sign of the suspect.
A decision was made to break down the perimeter. At this time an unknown trouble call came in – the caller stated that somebody was trying to kill him and that he was running away. But it didn’t sound like the caller was running and Cassandra also noticed that the cell tower the call came in was close to the original shooting report, but not anywhere near the location of the supposed fleeing man. Things didn’t add up. Cassandra quickly tracked down the cell phone number of the original shooting suspect and checked it against the cell phone number of the ‘fleeing’ caller. The numbers matched! The suspect had tried to throw off the search by placing a bogus 9-1-1 call.
But he wasn’t able to outsmart Cassandra. Thanks to her uncanny ability to connect the dots, officers were able to apprehend the suspect. This is just one example of Cassandra’s stellar police work. In 2013 alone, she received four commendations.