Sunday, April 20, 2014

In Loving Memory

This post has been 7 months in the making. It has taken me that long to find the words, to get through the emotions, and to get my thoughts together so that I can make a very special man proud. As I sit here typing, I can not help but to become emotional. I type and erase. It just doesn't seem exactly right. It is still unreal.

I am writing today about a co-worker, a friend, a son, a husband, a father, and an officer. I am writing about Sgt. Derek Ray Johnson.

I met Derek thirteen years ago when I began my dispatch career. He was already a dispatcher and I remember him being this funny, gangly, sweet, and very young kid!! I remember asking how this kid could be old enough to work at dispatch! He was just SO young! Derek was always smiling.. ALWAYS!! I figured out quickly that he had two different smiles though. He had the "I'm just a nice kid" smile and his "I'm thinking of doing/ or have done something mischievous" smile. I remember the PD Pit always laughing at something that Derek had done or had been a part of. Derek was the kid that opened the door for you when you were coming in to work. He was the one that said hi to the "newbies". He was an instant friend.

Derek always wanted to be a cop. He wanted it bad! He was an explorer for the Sandy City Police Department and made some life long friends. He earned their respect through his hard work and commitment. Shortly after Derek graduated from high school, he did two things. He married his sweetheart since middle school and entered the academy. Derek was hired by the Draper Police Department as a reserve officer and then became a full time sworn officer 8 months later.  I remember the first time working the Draper channel and seeing Derek's name. I had to make sure it was really him! I was so excited for him and us.. we had "one of us" on the other side of the radio. It was so cool!!

Derek was born to be a cop. He had incredible instincts and a way with the public. He quickly gained the respect of the citizens of Draper. He was tough but fair and always there for the people he served. He worked hard and quickly rose to Sergeant. I knew, as his dispatcher, that I could always count on him to answer a question, take control of a situation that was far from in control. Derek made dispatching easy. He made it a joy. I loved seeing him on my roster when I would come in to work.

On September 1, 2013, Derek was doing his thing. He came across a vehicle parked in an odd place and like the great officer he was, he stopped and was going to check it out. Before Derek had a chance, a suspect ambushed Derek and shot him. Derek attempted to radio for help, but was unable to. With unimaginable strength, Derek was able to drive a little ways from the attack before he crashed his vehicle. Calls started coming in to Dispatch of shots fired. Draper officers responded and found Derek. They heroically attempted to save him, but his wounds were too severe.

The loss of an officer is always devastating, but the loss of one of our own.. of Derek, was and is, something that we will never understand. However, we must go on serving the citizens of Draper and the State of Utah as Derek would have wanted. He is still with us each and every day. He is watching our backs. When Derek was with us, he was our hero in this world. Now he is our hero in our hearts and in Heaven. Derek is always with his brothers and sisters in blue. He is there giving a pat on the back for a job well done. He was the type of man and officer that I hope that future officers will strive to be.

RIP Derek. You will always be loved and missed. Until we meet again, my friend.

Sgt. Derek Johnson's Last Call

Sgt. Derek Ray Johnson
EOW 9/1/2013

Monday, April 14, 2014

It is Telecommunicators Week!

I know. I know! You are shocked! I've been horrible about writing lately! So here y'all go, a new post!

Today marks the beginning of National Telecommunicators Week. Or in simple words, Dispatch Week. It is a week where those incredible individuals that answer the phone in a time of crisis are put center stage and are shown the gratitude felt by the agencies and citizens they serve.

I may be one of those individuals that answer the phone or key up on the radio, but it does not diminish the gratitude I have for my coworkers, whether in my own agency or any agency across our great country. When we began our careers, there was something within us that called us forward and asked us to serve. We had the courage to answer that call and we continue to have the courage to answer that call each and every day.

For most, when they come through the door and fill out an application it is "just a job". They quickly learn that being a dispatcher is so much more than "just a job". It is a way of life. It changes you. You become a different person. I have watched housewives that are coming back into the workplace after years grow right before my eyes. I've watched the young kid fresh out of high school mature into an incredible young man. They are no longer this naive young person that isn't aware of what goes on in the real world. It becomes a wake up call. I've seen them grow and be so proud of what they are becoming.

I've seen it in myself. I've seen the growth within me. It hasn't always been easy. There are times that it has been helluva hard! There have been times when I didn't know if I could continue walking through that door and get through another day. But I have and I will. What gets me through each and every day are the people I work with. They are what makes the bad times bearable.

Thank you, my friends! My strength when you need it, gratitude, and love will always be with you!