Jennifer Abruzzo and Stephanie Scott sharing their National Police Week experience.
This year’s National Police Week took place May 14 – 20 in Washington, DC. Jennifer Abruzzo and Stephanie Scott, South Sound 911 Dispatchers, were the Teamsters who were union-sponsored to attend the event alongside Michelle Woodrow, Local 117 President and Director of Corrections and Law Enforcement. Scott has been a Teamster at SS911 for almost 10 years and worked as a police officer prior to that. She is also a newly elected Shop Steward at her workplace. Meanwhile, Abruzzo has 20 years at SS911 and 28 years in the industry under her belt.
In June, Abruzzo received the Telecommunicator of the Year for Critical Incidents Award for handling an excruciating call that involved the death of a Tacoma Police Officer in a domestic related incident. Officer Gutierrez was well known at SS911 and was their dear friend.
"They were somber and silent as names of all the fallen officers were read off and the bell was rang. It was intense and awe-inspiring."
Both women are exactly who you would hope to find on the other side of your 911 call – calm, attentive and positive. During our interview they sat across from me smiling and upbeat, yet beneath the momentary laughter you can sense the sadness and bereavement that the incident has left. Attending the National Police Week and sharing their difficult and tragic experience with thousands of families and law enforcement professionals who have suffered a similar loss has been consoling, they say.
Scott shares the conflicting feelings she felt during the week. “It was overwhelming and bittersweet. It felt amazing to meet people who shared our experience, but poignant at the same time because of our loss.”
Both Teamsters site the candlelight vigil as the strongest experience that week.
“The candlelight vigil is what touched us the most. It was a sea of people, just thousands and thousands of them. They were somber and silent as names of all fallen officers were read off and the bell was rang. It was intense and awe-inspiring”.
Abruzzo’s award ceremony happened last week in Kennewick at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials Conference. Despite taking thousands of critical calls and making split second decisions daily while monitoring 6 screens at her work station, she is reserved about her award.
“It was a team effort,” she says. “I certainly couldn’t have done it to the degree that I did without the team. It was great after all these years of service and all we’ve seen and done for someone to say: “We recognize you. It was hard, but you did a great job.”
Abruzzo and Scott: "The candlelight vigil is what touched us the most".
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