I work with my LEO. I am his lifeline. I am his spouse and companion. I am a 911 dispatcher. My LEO and I met in dispatch. He was an officer and I a dispatcher. Once married things didn’t change at work, he was still an officer and I was still a dispatcher – it just took our marriage to a whole new level. We talk about the job, whereas a lot of spouses try to leave work at work. My LEO and I both share the same passion and commitment to law enforcement as we do our marriage.
With that being said there are challenges to knowing what my LEO faces in the darkness. I know what lurks around every corner. I know what might happen at every domestic. I am the one that sends him to these situations. In knowing that my husband will face these uncertain situations, I steel myself in the fact that he is a well-trained officer. However, I am not saying that bad situations don’t happen to just the bad officers. I know my LEO better than any other person. I know that in these situations I am the one that can get him the best help ever just as I would any of my officers. I take personal pride in my job and getting my LEOs what they need in every situation.
It is important in every marriage to communicate and it is no different in an 911 operator/officer marriage. We talk about what happens at work, what he encountered, and how it made him feel. I talk about the calls that I received during the day and my thoughts and worries. We vent with each other and talk about the “what ifs” in all situations. How would he handle things and how I would handle them on my end. We play scenarios out if he was in a dangerous situation what actions could I take as a dispatcher to get him what he needs. What questions could I ask, what information is required… It is all part of being the best we can be together.
Communication isn’t everything when in this sort of marriage its finding your partner’s capabilities, strengths, and weakness while under extreme pressure. I found out my strength in several situations while my LEO was on the other side of the radio. He was involved in a high-speed pursuit with two vehicles. One vehicle was trying to ram him off of the road.
I had to maintain calm while dispatching, knowing that one slip of the steering wheel could be fatal. I also know that my husband is an excellent driver and knows how to handle himself. So in that I knew just to aid him with information on the vehicles and get him the backup that I could. While he was in this situation I was dealing with several different agencies trying to get him all the help possible.
A lot of people ask how do you do it? How do you handle the stress knowing that something could happen to the one you love while on duty? In hiring, this could often be an interview question, “how would you feel about dispatching to your spouse? I do it because I love my job, I love the adrenaline. I love helping people. I love being the lifeline. I handle the stress because I have to. I was a dispatcher first and he was a LEO first. We chose to do this together. We knew what we would be facing and knew what could always happen. I don’t dwell on it but know that one day I could get that knock on the door just like so many before me. I don’t have a problem dispatching for my spouse, I love it and relish the time that we get to spend together even if it is on different sides of the radio. I wouldn’t have my life any other way.
Niki Tallent married to her LEO James Tallent reside in Arkansas with their 5 sons and one dog. Niki is a 911 operator/dispatcher and her husband James a Deputy at Pulaski County. Niki went to Lakeside High School and soon started working as a dispatcher after her first son was born. Niki became Director for Arkansas Wives Behind the Badge Auxiliary after wanting to support LE even more. She joined Wives Behind the Badge Arkansas Auxiliary in March of this year, trying to find my place to help impact Arkansas LEOWs. In September She took over as Director of Arkansas Wives Behind the Badge after talking it through with my husband, whom at first was skeptical of the workload involved. The support for me from other LEOWs was absolutely amazing.