UCFPD Honors Dispatchers During Telecommunications Week

Posted April 16, 2020

UCFPD Honors Dispatchers During Telecommunications Week

During National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, the UCF Public Safety team would like to highlight two of our dispatch heroes we get the pleasure of working with every day.

Rebeca Alonso

At just 17 years old, Rebeca Alonso applied for a dispatcher position at the UCF Police Department. Her mother, who worked in Millican Hall at the time, found the job posting and encouraged her daughter, who had just graduated from high school, to apply.

Alonso was no stranger to the UCF campus. Before applying for the dispatcher position, she worked at a Wendy’s that was in the Student Union. 

More than 20 years later, Alonso is still taking calls at UCFPD’s 24/7 Communications Center. However, she is now a supervisor and has the second-most seniority out of 13 dispatchers.

Between the benefits of working at UCF and the loyalty she’s experienced within the department, she’s never thought of leaving UCFPD.

While she loves that no two shifts are the same as a dispatcher, she admits the job isn’t always easy.

“The toughest part of being a dispatcher is making sure that my officers go home safe each day,” said Alonso. “It is an immense responsibility.”

Alonso encourages new dispatchers to fasten their seatbelts.

“It will seem very overwhelming at first, but it will eventually become second nature,” she said. “At the end of the day, it will be a very rewarding career.”

Thomas Newman

Unlike his colleague, Thomas Newman entered the dispatch field just over a month ago, but high stress careers are second-nature to him.

Before joining UCFPD, Newman was a Park Ranger. And before that, he was in the Marines as a CH-53 crew chief and mechanic in Jacksonville, North Carolina, where he worked on life support equipment, such as parachutes, life rafts, flares, radios, and other apparatus that keeps pilots and aircrew alive. 

He’s always had an interest in law enforcement, so becoming a dispatcher made sense as his next career move.

“I'd like to be an officer one day,” he admits. “While I work on my education and try to figure out what type of law enforcement I’m interested in, becoming a dispatcher seemed to be a great way to get my foot in the door and gain valuable experience.”

When looking for an agency to join, the professionalism of UCFPD stood out to him the most.  Newman was also impressed by the community outreach and partnerships involved in a campus law enforcement agency, which he believes is invaluable to future safety and prosperity, and something he wanted to be a part of.

Since joining the department a little over a month ago, he’s appreciated the warm welcome from his fellow dispatchers and officers at UCFPD.

Even though their experience is vastly different, Newman agrees with Alonso – the job comes with its difficulties.

“One of the more stressful parts of being a dispatcher is communicating with people over the phone on one of their worst days,” he said.  “It’s our job to try to help keep them calm, all the while getting information quickly and accurately to officers so they can be prepared.”

Although he’s still learning the ropes, he hopes to one day become a trainer to other dispatchers, so he can help ensure the viability and success of the Communications Center. 

Although UCFPD’s dispatchers have a wide range of experience, there’s one thing everyone on UCF’s public safety team can agree on: without dispatchers, UCFPD would not be able to keep UCF safe.

Not only during National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, but every day, we are incredible grateful for the work our dispatchers do behind-the-scenes. They are often the first voice we hear in an emergency, and are truly the first first-responders.