Tahoe City dispatch closes after 50 years
July 24, 2010
TAHOE CITY, Calif. – The phones are off, scanners muted, the desks emptied and office chairs reshuffled, all remnants of the Tahoe City dispatch’s final days as the Placer County Sheriff Department decided to close the dispatch in May after 50 years of service and relocate services to Auburn.
“The decision was a combination of a lot of things,” said Captain Granum of the Placer County Sheriff Department.
However, Granum said the main reason for the closure was due to a lack of staffing for the Tahoe City facility after the North Tahoe Fire Protection District and Squaw Valley Fire Department decided to use Calfire for dispatch.
Granum said when that happened it would have made it logistically difficult to maintain a steady flow of dispatching shifts and technology has made it effective to centralize services in Auburn.
All the former staff he said have been given new positions or relocated to Auburn.
“I would say the dispatchers who worked there were extremely dedicated,” he said. “For the most part they lived right in this community where they worked and most people knew the callers or the dispatchers.
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Sgt. John Giovannini, who works out of the same offices, said he will always remember the Tahoe City dispatchers playing a vital role in the community doing exceptional work using their intimate knowledge the area.
“I want them (the dispatchers) to know that as officers we appreciate them watching our backs and we consider them as family and always will,” Giovannini said. “When you share stressful events together you bond on a certain level.”
Kelly Hernandez, a former dispatcher now working as the office’s administrative secretary said the closure was a hard change and the decision to stay was even harder.
Hernandez said she was presented with the choice to commute to Auburn and keep the same wage or stay in Tahoe and take a significant salary cut. In the end, Hernandez chose Tahoe.
“I’ve been here for 20 years and I’m thankful that I at least got to stay in any capacity,” Hernandez said. “Everybody here knows me and I know everybody so that just makes my job that much easier.”
Hernandez said she’ll miss the excitement and camaraderie of the job.
“I miss being in the middle of everything and knowing everything that’s happening and being there from the beginning of the first phone call to the arrest,” she said.
Though she doesn’t recommend anyone do this, she said she also remembers a few comical phone calls like a call she received from a woman on the chair lift too afraid to get off and tourists asking how far snow is falling.
“We would say all the way to ground,” Hernandez chuckled.
Then of course there was the man who wanted the wake up call.
“I asked the caller what his emergency was and he said he needed a morning wake up call and I said this is 911 sir this is for life and death emergencies. And I remember him saying ‘If I don’t get up by a certain time it’s going to be an emergency!'”
Though he said he’ll miss the Tahoe City dispatch service, Giovannini said he thought the change reflected what many government agencies are doing around the state and around the nation under economic and logistical pressures.
“I think emergency resources are going to have to get more lean and learn to do more with less,” he said. “To do this we’re going to have to prioritize more.”
The Tahoe City dispatch, established in September of 1960 in preparation for the Winter Olympic Games ended it’s 50-year run in the evening of May 16. Previously, Granum said the Placer County Sheriff Department used a two-story house near Tahoe City’s old fish hatchery for dispatch.