The senior public safety dispatcher with the Conway Police Department is retiring after 24 years of service.
Sheryl Shackley has been dispatch supervisor of six dispatchers since the summer of 1998.
Friday Jan. 31, 2014 is her last day on the job. She says she’s leaving with mixed emotions, having loved her job and found her career rewarding – but now she’s ready to move on to a more relaxed lifestyle where she doesn’t have to deal with crisis after crisis.
Everything at the Conway Police Dept. goes through the dispatch center, so Sheryl says she’s had to multi-task, be flexible, make good decisions, communicate well, prioritize, provide directions, use common sense, keep track of patrol officers, firefighters and rescue personnel, run thousands of license plate and checks – and answer phone calls that never stop.
Sheryl says her funniest experience was her first Halloween on the job, working alone on a busy night when one of her colleagues played a practical joke on her. The biggest change she’s seen has been in communications – things like the evolution of 911, caller I.D. and GPS tracking technology that make her job a little easier.
After a 6-week period of intensive one-on-one training where they are trained in dozens of possible scenarios, including radio and phone protocols and riding along with police officers and firefighters, Sheryl says the dispatchers become the lifeline of the police department –and she will miss it.
She’s handled lots of tough calls over the years, with some involving people she knows. She says her most challenging day was probably the triple homicide at the Army Barracks Store in Conway in July, 2007.
Now Sheryl looks forward to swimming in her pool, taking some golf lessons so she can join her husband Leon on the links and spending more time with her daughter.