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NENA Member Spotlight: Kelle Hall, Communications Manager, Highland Park (TX) DPS

Wednesday, February 5, 2014   (4 Comments)
Posted by: Chris Nussman
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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, 2012.

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 true professionals.

I love 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… 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 family.

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.

The scenario 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.


Lisa Dodson ENP says...
Posted Friday, February 7, 2014
Texas has the best folks in the industry! (yes, I'm a bit biased :-)...Kelle represents us very well!
Kelle, you are the best! Love ya!
Judith Weshinskey-Price ENP RPL says...
Posted Thursday, February 6, 2014
Great story! Miss working with you.
Sherry Decker ENP says...
Posted Thursday, February 6, 2014
Kelly Hall is an inspiration to us all! Love ya Kelly :) Sherry