Bucky The Dispatch Deer and the Island Of Misfits

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (Virginia Conservation Police)

This is the story of Bucky the Dispatch Deer and the Island of Misfits, located at a special communications center near you. The Island is full of communication officers from all walks of life, some new to the career, some experienced from other agencies, and one or two former officers along the way. The story is endearing because what feels like an island of unlucky misfits, you eventually see the story unfold that there is a group of special dispatchers and leaders that come together to conserve, connect and protect. Unlike the typical police departments, the conservation police dispatchers answer the Wildlife Crime Line, park guest lines, tip 411, and emails involving wildlife, boat and park violations and crimes. Instead of dispatching police, fire and EMS, we dispatch conservation police, park police and work mutual aid with other special agencies such as the Marine Police, Coast Guard, local police, state police and sheriff offices.

Our leaders are not Santa, King Moonracer or the Red Nose Reindeer, although we do have some memorable characters. All dispatchers might not be the same, but no matter what kind of agency we work at we do all have some things in common such as multi-tasking, working an emergency call while trying to dispatch a call on the radio, while receiving an urgent hit confirmation. The turnover rate can be high, and morale, appreciation and pay can sometimes be low, but it’s all worth it when we work together to help find that missing person, help keep our officers safe, get that promotion or celebrate special recognitions like 10 years of service while hoping for it to be 30 years one day.

We are one of the professions that goes usually goes unnoticed until something goes wrong. Congratulations to all my peers who got the write-up or criticism that means you were digging in and doing the work. In a perfect world we are fully staffed, well paid and a cohesive team. Although it’s not a perfect world, our number one job is to care about doing the best we can as a team.

Our recognition week originated from being overlooked over 40 years ago. Dispatchers are part of the thin gold line which represents those who are not seen but are mostly heard. We act as “the golden glue that holds it all together.” The police have our back, and we have their front. We are the first, first responder. We get that initial call. If this is your first year as a dispatcher enjoy the movie and get out the popcorn. There will be laughter and tears throughout the years. If you are lucky like me, when it’s nearing the time to hang up the last call, you’ll be looking forward to seeing how the story ends.