NENA Member Spotlight: Kelle Hall, Communications Manager, Highland Park (TX) DPS
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Posted by: Chris Nussman
This new special feature will highlight individual NENA Members from various backgrounds,
industry segments, experience and geographic locations. It offers members an
opportunity to share their story with their colleagues and the greater NENA
community. Click here to email NENA Member Services Director Bri Robinson if we should feature you or someone you know.
NENA: Tell us a little bit about who you are, where you’re from, what you do,
and your history with NENA….
Kelle Hall: My name is
Kelle Hall. I am the proud parent of two brilliant, successful,
independent children who have followed my footsteps and now also work in police
communications. My son, Ben, is 26 and works for the Amarillo Emergency
Communications Center in Amarillo, Texas. My daughter, Elizabeth, is 25
and works for the Garland, Texas Police Department. My
daughter-in-law, Brandilyn, works in the banking industry as a trainer, but we
won’t hold that against her!
I’ve been in
police communications going on 30 years. I started my career in 1984,
with the Amarillo, Texas Police Department. After working there for 2 ½
years, I took a 7 month break to stay home with my son after he was born, but
it wasn’t long before I was ready to get back into communications. So, I
started my job with the Randall County Sheriff’s Office in Canyon, Texas in
November 1987. I worked as a part-time dispatcher, then moved to
full-time in January 1988. During my tenure with the sheriff’s
office, I promoted to supervisor, and eventually rose to the rank of
lieutenant, overseeing the Service Division. During my early years
at the sheriff’s office, 9-1-1 was implemented in our community. We
received both ANI and ALI information from the onset, and thought we were
special. I retired from the Randall County Sheriff’s Office on June 1,
On June 6,
2012, a new chapter began in my life when I moved to Dallas, Texas and started
my current job as the Communications Manager for the Town of Highland
Park. Highland Park is a small community located 3 miles north of
downtown Dallas. We serve 2.2 square miles with a population of about
8500 people. We are unique because our community is very affluent and
many of our residents live in multi-million dollar homes. The officers in
my agency are multi-disciplined, meaning in addition to being police officers,
they are also firefighters and paramedics. Fortunately, our average response
time to priority calls is two minutes or less because the officer on the street
can begin administering care immediately upon arrival. One of my joys is
the staff I manage. Our turnover rate is very low, and they do their jobs
exceptionally well. The Communications Specialists at Highland Park are
living in a vibrant, fast moving city and working for this reputable
organization. I’ve been blessed to work for wise leaders who are
community oriented during my lifetime. Sheriff Joel W. Richardson, whom I
served under was, and still is, my mentor and friend. I have learned many
leadership lessons under his tutelage. I am also fortunate to currently
work for Chief Chris Vinson, who places professionalism and integrity at the
top of his list. Both men are the kind of leader I aspire to be.
I have been
a member of NENA for many years. Through this organization, I’ve learned
and grown from the many classes and conferences I’ve attended. Most
importantly, I’ve acquired friends and colleagues who’ve helped me along the
way. The advantage of being involved with NENA is the information shared
regarding the 9-1-1 industry. My participation has given me the ability
to stay informed on current technological advances and issues, which allows me
to plan for my PSAP accordingly.
NENA: What does 9-1-1 mean to you?
KH: 9-1-1 signifies a lifeline. To the person hiding in
her closet because someone has broken into her home, 9-1-1 is help on the way.
To the child who doesn’t know her address, but learned how to dial 9-1-1 at
daycare, it’s a safety net. 9-1-1 means technology and industry
standards. It’s hard to believe one can send a text message to a center,
requesting help. I still remember when texting was very foreign and you
had to push the 7 three times quickly to get the letter "R” to appear.
Wow…..as time rolls on, so does our technology. Being a 9-1-1 operator
means bearing a great deal of responsibility, but the rewards are endless.
NENA: Why did you choose a career in public safety?
KH: Funny you should ask. I had dropped out of
college because it just wasn’t for me and had begun dating a guy whose mother
was an Amarillo Police Officer. I was at the point of, "What am I going
to do with my life?” when she told me about a dispatch opening at the Amarillo
Police Department. I responded, "Great! What does a dispatcher
do”? Little did I know, my destiny had been set. Though I started
in the business before 9-1-1 was implemented in our city, police communications
quickly became my passion. Who knew I’d excel in this field? What
started as just a job, became a wonderful adventure which I still enjoy
today. I love working in public safety and know God had a plan for me
when steering me in this direction.
NENA: What do you like best about your job?
KH: I like the variety of events and people I come into
contact with on a daily basis. Whether it’s co-workers, or colleagues, or
even a community member, the energy I receive and the knowledge I gain from
them inspires me to be a better person. I truly love the cohesiveness of
public safety because regardless of where I am, I am part of a large, extended
NENA: Is there a particular event or call that you are particularly proud of?
KH: In 1992, I
was covering a shift on deep nights because someone had called in sick.
The night was slowly crawling by when I received a 9-1-1 call from an
elderly female who was being held captive in her home. Working alone
proved difficult as I became the call taker, dispatcher and hostage negotiator
while responders raced to the scene. The phones we were using were "old
school” so I didn’t have the ability to mute my end of the phone. I
surreptitiously called the chain of command, trying to explain the situation
without the hostage taker’s knowledge. Imagine waking the sheriff up by
whispering about this situation. Everyone was notified and on the scene
while I dealt with a drunk, uncooperative and belligerent man demanding to
speak to his girlfriend, who had dumped him earlier in the day.
involved an angry tenant, a very independent elderly woman and multiple
officers who had the house surrounded. For over an hour, I served as the
dispatcher and hostage negotiator as I relayed information between the hostage
taker and the responding officers. Finally an officer from another agency
came to my rescue and took over the negotiation with the hostage taker.
The situation was resolved when he finally agreed to lay down his weapon and
walk out the front door of the house. Fortunately, no injuries were
sustained other than the injury to my drunk hostage taker’s pride as he was
wrestled to the ground by the officers on scene. I was proud of the
outcome and the teamwork demonstrated as we worked together to end a situation
which could have turned violent at any moment.
NENA: If you could convey one message to the public about
9-1-1 or being a 9-1-1 professional, what would it be?
KH: We are more than someone who "just” answers the phone.
We are professionals, who genuinely care about the community in which we
serve. We’re parents, grandparents, sons & daughters, aunts and
uncles, friends, Sunday school teachers, scout leaders, PTA members, the list
goes on and on. We are the consoling voice you hear when you’ve
discovered your spouse has died; we are your cheerleader when you administer
CPR; we are the shoulder you cry on after a tragic event; we are the voice
soothing a scared child who calls when Mommy and Daddy are fighting; we are the
voice who calms your suicidal teenager; we are the voice who receives verbal
abuse because of someone’s negative interaction with a police officer; we are
9-1-1 operators who stand in the gap; we are the first responder who comforts
and reassures you until help arrives.