When I saw the notice for Public Safety Superhero, I knew I had to submit Julie Kelly as my superhero. Julie is the 1530-2330 supervisor at the Newton, Massachusetts Police Department. Julie has been a dispatcher with the City of Newton for 30 years. She has been a supervisor for ten years. Julie has also been an important part of training new dispatchers as well as has roles on the hiring committee. Julie has always taken classes beyond what the Department offers, to become the best Dispatcher she can be. But that is not why I am submitting her name.
You will get plenty of nominations for people like the type of Dispatcher/Supervisor I described. You will hear about how that person is the CJIS Rep or Back Up Rep, how they stay after hours to do validations, how they are the last to leave, how they save people’s lives… All the typical stuff, that although impressive, is kind of the norm in this profession. The type of person who would be a dispatcher – a little nuts, a hard worker, someone who likes to eat on the fly, a detail-oriented person, calm under pressure, a researcher, tenacious, etc. – describes any of us. Then there’s Julie.
Julie, as a person, is an amazing individual. She is kind, compassionate, intuitive. She’s got the kind of voice you want to hear when you or a loved one is going through a crisis. She has a warm, confident, gentle way about her with those calls that need that sort of touch. Not every caller needs the hammer. She also has a commanding presence, when needed, and can get control over the conversation to get the information needed to get the help there. I do not know if you could call it a mother’s touch, although Julie has two beautiful daughters that are the light of her life and her husband Bill is no slouch, either.
Julie’s dedication is not just for the “big” calls or when the brass is around. She is the first person to volunteer to call for a tow or the electric company or be on hold with some alarm company for a lengthy time. All those little things that make the shift go smoothly. She will go to bat for any of us dispatchers, even if that makes her a little less popular with the powers that be. In the end, everyone knows her intention is to look out for the dispatchers and go to bat for them, not to create any friction or to go on an ego trip.
Julie is always looking for ways to build morale. We celebrate Telecommunicators Week, we have done drives for deployed military personnel and the elderly, sending out care packages. She helps us if we have questions and does not make us feel embarrassed if we make a mistake – it’s all about learning, improving, and working as a team. She tells the best stories about her dogs, Stanley and Gigi – although I think Gigi is scary.
The thing that makes her stick out is that she has an empathy for us dispatchers. She can tell when we need a little boost or encouragement; she can sense if something is going on in our lives. She is a great listener and really cares about each of us as human beings.
Sometimes supervisors are all about getting the job done and leaving your personal stuff at home. In theory, that’s great, but sometimes it is not humanly possible. Just knowing Julie is there in the room has kept a lot of us together – whether its personal stuff or really tough calls. Knowing there is someone in the trenches that cares about us as individual people, someone who will hear our suggestions, someone who will handle every call with professionalism and thoroughness and be a significant role model – not just as a dispatcher but as a human being – makes the job worthwhile and noble.
The only negative thing I would say about Julie, because this sounds like she is too good to be true, is that she has the culinary tastes of a 6-year-old. While we are eating grown up meals, there’s Julie with her grilled cheese sandwiches, cheeseburger with nothing on it and fries with no ketchup…. And Diet Coke.
So, I do not know if Julie will win an award, but I feel like I have by having an opportunity to write this about her. Not only am I a better dispatcher for having known her, but I’m also an even better person.
Newton Police Department