Meet the dispatchers who keep Natchez and Adams County safe

Published 3:51 pm Monday, April 22, 2024

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By ANNETTE FELLS, Adams County E-911 Director

Special to The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — As part of National Telecommunicators Week, which ends April 21, Adams County E-911 Director Annette Fells recognized the telecommunicators who serve Natchez and Adams County every day.

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“If you see them, please tell them thank you for the jobs they do for our community,” she said.

Sara Davis

Sara Davis is a beautiful soul with an interest in furthering her career beyond telecommunications. She has a high school and college degree.” Davis lights the way in letting the citizens know that their safety matters and dispatchers are on their side,” Fells said.

She started her career as a telecommunicator in 2019 and her passion for it has increased tremendously. She currently serves as a shift supervisor.

Being an emergency dispatcher is not an easy job. Most have mistaken the job as an easy task since the primary goal is to answer phone calls. However, it is often forgotten that these calls pertain to traumatic situations in which the dispatcher must remain calm for the sake of the caller because overall we are the first first responders. Although the job can be stressful and challenging at times, there are good outcomes. “Davis has learned to have that separation as far as leaving work at work. She hopes that she has done well so far in protecting and serving the citizens from behind the console,” Fells said.

Tristan Rice

Tristan Rice joined the dispatch family in December 2022, something she saw as an early Christmas gift by way of doing what she could to help the community she grew up in.

Helping people to the best of her ability is something Rice has always enjoyed doing, whether it be to act as a listening ear or to give a few laughs.

“I really enjoy working behind the scenes. It’s cool to see how dispatchers contribute to the larger picture of keeping the city and county safe,” Rice said. “It can take a toll, but knowing I helped someone get the help they need makes up for it in the end.”

When she isn’t answering phones and radios, she enjoys drawing, reading, and playing video games.

Sandra Tillman

Sandra Tillman began her work as a telecommunicator for Adams County E-911. She represents commitment, loyalty, and teamwork for the E-911 department.

“My skills and confidence on the radio reassure the officers and deputies that they are in good hands. When the community calls 911 for assistance, they are assured that there is someone on the other end of the phone who cares.

When not behind the console, Tillman enjoys making memories with family and friends.

“I am a strong believer in John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,’” she said.

Taj Minor

Taj Minor has been a dispatcher for Adams County E-911 for approximately a year.

Growing up, Minor learned the family business of home remodeling using tile, wood, marble, and granite.

A year ago, he had a tragic accident that made him want to assist people in need, as he once was. Dispatching has been that tool for Minor to provide the right help to the right people at a reasonable time.

Terrence Brown

Terrence Brown is a 911 telecommunicator and dispatcher with the Adams County E-911 Dispatch Center, helping citizens with emergency and non-emergency situations while also coordinating with police, fire, and sheriff’s offices.

Brown specializes in finding the appropriate response agency for a problem a caller has and then cooperating with those agencies to solve their problems.

“This is best achieved by focusing on what the caller is telling us and being perceptive. I was one of the dispatchers who answered the phone to help apprehend the three juveniles that had the City of Natchez anxious for weeks,” Brown said. “By working with the brave citizens who called, I was able to relay information given to the police and sheriff’s office that led to the arrest of the three. What I want people to take away from this is that we are rarely seen, are under-compensated, and hardly supported, but we are here to help you, the citizens, as best we can. So, hello, how can I help you?”

Mack James

Mack James is a telecommunicator for Adams County and Natchez. He began his journey with the Natchez Police Department in April 2005, where he was in service for 12 years as a telecommunicator.

In April 2017, his position was merged with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office telecommunicators, thus forming Adams E-911.

In his time at E-911, James has become a shift captain, made employee of the month, and shift captain of the month, and has been presented with the Jason Busby Award for Telecommunicator of the Year in 2022 by the Mississippi 911 Coordinators Association. At present, James has given 911 and the community 19 years of loyal service.

Marlon Sweazy

Marlon “Chico” Sweazy is the supervisor for Adams County E-911 Central Dispatch.

Growing up, Sweazy watched shows like Rescue 911, which first aired on April 18, 1989, but never dreamed of working with an actual 911 dispatch center.

As a former truck driver, Sweazy began dispatching for Adams County in June 2021. Although he has only worked there for a short period, he has been voted Employee of the Month and moved to shift captain and supervisor.

“He is truly devoted to giving people of the area help they need in times of distress and plans to give as much dedication and loyalty to the center as he possibly can.

Franklin Chatman

Franklin Chatman is an Adams County E-911 dispatcher. Coming from a family of music, cooking, and a legacy of performing arts, Franklin accepted the challenge of being a first responder with no hesitation.

Chatman’s education began in early 1992. He holds three certificates and an associate’s degree in health and human service from Ultimate Medical Academy.

He is currently enrolled in school to further his education in the medical field.

Franklin has a heart to help people, write poetry, and listen to music in his spare time.

“I am very pleased to be a part of Telecommunication Week,” he said.

Bessie Vasquez

Bessie Vasquez is new to Adams E-911, beginning with the department in 2024. Since joining the team, she has brought creativity and focused energy to ensure better service for officers, deputies, and callers. She is attentive and caring when dealing with callers in distress. Vasquez is calm, quick-thinking, and a perfect resource on the telecommunicator team.

Katona Jackson

Katona Jackson joined the E-911 team in 2023 and brought with her years of community care. She possesses the ability to be firm while expressing both sympathy and empathy with 911 callers. “She is a treasure when it comes to teamwork and few can out-matcher her compassion toward the people she helps. Her performance in and out of E-911 is what makes her the great telecommunicator that she is,” Fells said.

Shanecia Miller (not pictured)

Shanecia Miller began her work with Adams County E-911 as a dispatcher in February 2021. She said the job can be very stressful and unpredictable and “it’s not for the faint of heart.” As a shift captain, she makes her job look easy.

One of the more important qualities that she possessed is the ability to remain calm and stay focused in an emergency. By doing this, she can think clearly and assist citizens with the help they need.

She said her job is demanding, but it’s rewarding to be on the front line when help is needed.

Miller said she has grown to love her job and looks forward to what the future holds.

Outside of work, Miller enjoys watching her comfort shows, spending time with her three beautiful children and wonderful family, and cooking. Miller credits listening to old-school R&B and writing in her journal as a way to ease her mind and keep her spirit calm.

Andrea A. Pickett (not pictured)

Andrea Pickett has been an E-911 dispatcher with Adams County since 2021 and said she has developed a deep passion for her job. She enjoys helping citizens and satisfying the needs of her county.

“Whether they need police, a deputy, or a firefighter in a hurry, I will dispatch them swiftly,” Pickett said. “I am here to help and serve you, so please call 911 with your emergency and non-emergency needs and I will be more than welcome to serve you.”