‘We Scar Our Souls’: Police Dispatcher Discusses Difficult but Rewarding Work

SACRAMENTO -- They each have their own reason for being a behind the scenes hero.

For veteran Sacramento dispatcher Richard Taylor, his initial motivation for this line of work was very straight forward.

"I did it because I like going home at night with a clear conscience," Taylor said.

Many calls that Taylor and his colleagues receive are what one would expect as Sacramento police dispatchers.

"We get calls for -- someone's been shot, someone's been hurt, stabbing, an accident," he said.

But the job is by no means predictable.

Sometimes, these dispatchers are literally the last person a caller hears.

"I've been on the line with people as they died. They have already overdosed and they didn't want help they just wanted a friendly voice at the end of their life. I've been on the phone with children who found their parents dead," Taylor told FOX40. "It's heartbreaking. We scar our souls every day to try to help people get through the worst moment of their life."

Taylor has been a dispatcher for 14 years.

Learning to distinguish an important call from a not as vital one comes with experience he says, so, too, does figuring out the state of who's calling.

Last year, Sacramento Police Department dispatchers received about 11,000 calls for mental health issues alone.

So why would someone put themselves in a position to deal with emotional and mental trauma every work day like dispatchers do?

Taylor says the joy comes from a certain type of satisfaction, one that only some can handle, but it's also a service that every community needs.

"It's hard not to feel good about yourself when you do something that important," he said.

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