Answering call for 31 years

WARREN – Answering calls for the city police department became second nature for Theresa Scirocco during her career in the city’s communication center.

Still, there were calls that came in that were anything but routine, she said.

“You remember the homicides, they stick with you, or the parents who call you when a child’s been injured,” Scirocco said. “Those are some of the hardest.

”But there’s one, the one call I remember the most. I think it was during midnight turn, or the afternoon shift, and officers were chasing a subject. The officer called for an ambulance, and I assumed the subject had been injured. The officer never said he was the one needing the ambulance.”

Scirocco, referred to as ”T. Bird” by many of her former colleagues, said the officer had been stabbed.

“He didn’t tell me that,” she said. ”I found out later. It hit home because that’s our job, to make sure your officers get home safe.

Scirocco, 52, retired at the start of the year after 31 years with Warren city – 30 of which she worked in dispatch. During that time, she saw many transitions in her department, including the installation of a 911 system, and the conversion from a manual record-keeping system to the higher-tech computer system the police department has now.

“Back when I started, you had a desk sergeant, you hand-wrote all your logs, and back then Warren, Niles, Liberty and Girard were all on the same frequency … the same radio system,” she said.

She started her city career working for the park department, then saw an opportunity to become a radio operator in 1982. She was promoted to communication coordinator supervisor in 1996.

“I was already working for the city, but I saw a job posting for a dispatcher and I thought that sounded really interesting,” she said. “At the time, they were trying to get female officers, but I thought that I would rather be inside than outside. That was the right decision for me.”

During her career, Scirocco worked for five police chiefs. She saw the radio room remodeled several times and saw many changes take place.

“It’s definitely come a long way,” she said. “When the city decided to put all officers out on the road, the dispatchers started answering all of the calls. There have definitely been a lot of changes since I was hired.”

Her co-workers lauded Scirocco’s attention to detail, and said that her primary concern was for the officers’ safety.

Scirocco acknowledged that working as a police dispatcher isn’t for everyone.

“I’ve been really blessed and I have a lot of fond memories,” she said. “But I always tell people that it’s definitely not for everybody. It takes a special person to be a police dispatcher.

”And the only way you can tell if someone is cut out for it is seeing how they react when they’re actually doing it. You actually have to see person sit there and attempt to do the job and see how they react to the different situations and how they handle them. Only then can you know if it’s for them.”