Southern’s Unsung Hero: Pamela Day
Monica Zielinski – Managing Editor
Southern’s police department has experienced shoes to fill after one of its members traded in her uniform for a golf polo. Dispatcher Pamela Day retired Monday after 34 years of state service.
Day said she looks forward to spending her free time playing golf, traveling and relaxing after working at the station for so many years.
Besides the people, of course, she said she’ll miss having a routine—waking up at 5:15 a.m., getting coffee and coming to the station.
Everyday, she would come in, check the equipment and make sure “everything is up and running and just waits for the calls.”
“It gets really stressful because most of the time, we handle the people that walk into the department and assist them while the phones are ringing and the officers are calling in. It gets a little hectic and you have to prioritize,” said Day. “You’re kind of pulled in four or five different directions.”
The Stafford native started working for the state in 1981 as a student worker and clerk typist at Central Connecticut State University. After leaving school, she was hired at SCSU in 1992.
During her time at Southern, she said she has seen major changes to the campus’s security measures.
When she first started, she said the station had one computer and the police base scanner was outdated.
“It hummed so I couldn’t really hear the officers. It was just very basic. And now it’s evolved to over 500 cameras throughout the university in just the past couple of years. We used to have very minimal [cameras]. Now we have them everywhere,” said Day.
Another change is the installation of blue light emergency telephones around campus and inside buildings. Day said the phones connect to the station automatically, but a lot of people don’t know that so they start to dial.
“The call comes into us as an emergency so we don’t know what’s going on. A lot of times in the elevators, they’ll hit the elevator button and it comes in as an emergency. People make mistakes,” said Day.
Part of her job is determining which calls take priority, so Day said if someone calls an emergency line and they need directions or help with a parking issue, she’ll tell them to hold and answer the actual emergency call.
Chief Joseph Dooley said Day was “a very reliable and dependable employee” at the Southern police.
“She’s been at work every day dealing with a variety of issues–some emergency issues and some regular routine manners that occur across the campus. She’s been a friendly voice for the police department and she’s going to be missed,” said Dooley.
Lt. Richard Randall said dispatchers are the “eyes and ears of the department” and that without them, they’d be in a “very sad state.”
He said Day was very good at her job and they can’t replace her until the day after she leaves, but she had 34 years of experience as a dispatcher and “trying to replace that is not easy.”
Fellow dispatcher Paul Grimme said it’s sad to see her leave, but 34 years is a long time. “It’s a very stressful job,” he said.
As students old and new return to campus for the fall semester, Day said she wants them to remember to have fun but to make good choices.
For someone who had to answer the calls and see the faces at the station, she said she wants students to use their heads.
“You do something stupid, you get thrown out of school, you get arrested and that could follow you the rest of your life,” said Day.
Although her time here at Southern has come to an end, Day said she will continue to work part-time elsewhere as a means to “get out of the house.” She said plans to travel to Italy, but otherwise do “as little as possible,” she added with a laugh.
Photo Credit: Monica Zielinski – Managing Editor