UNLPD dispatch upgrade offers increased capacity, accessibility

· 3 min read

UNLPD dispatch upgrade offers increased capacity, accessibility

woman working in UNL dispatch center
Craig Chandler University Communication and Marketing
UNLPD Dispatch Director Sara Haake watches a screen as she and fellow dispatchers Desiree Allum, left, and Ella England work in the new space. UNL Police Department has redone its dispatch center.

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has enhanced campus safety through an upgrade of the University Police Department’s emergency dispatch center.

On average, the dispatch center fields 1,500 calls per month, and the officers responded to 3,894 calls for service in 2022. By upgrading the dispatch center’s consoles, the unit will benefit from improved accessibility, increased comfort, easier IT management and increased capacity. The upgrades come one year after Sara Haake became the new dispatch director. Haake identified the upgrades as a priority so staff could manage calls as efficiently as possible.

“I just wanted to make sure that we had the best tools available to us to maximize our space,” Haake said.

Most notably, the new consoles allow for increased accessibility and increased staff capacity.

“I don’t currently have anybody that uses a wheelchair, but if I did, they wouldn’t have to chair transfer anymore because these consoles go down to 24 inches,” Haake said.

Increased staff capacity is especially important for Husker football home games, during which the dispatch center is responsible for coordinating law enforcement and security for a campus that transforms into Nebraska’s third-largest city.

“With this update, we expanded our dispatch center by repurposing one of our older, usable stations,” Haake said. “Now we actually have six total stations, which we would need because we have eight positions dispatching during the football game.”

woman working in UNL dispatch center
Craig Chandler University Communication and Marketing
UNLPD dispatcher Ella England watches a screen as she and fellow dispatcher Desiree Allum, left, work in the new space.

The desks also provide better technology management, which makes it easier to solve IT issues. They feature increased comfort measures such as heating/cooling adjustments and greater access to technology adjustments like desk heights and depth of computer.

“Some of the previous desks were about 15 years old, and we wanted to upgrade them and get some more creature comforts,” Haake said. “We spend a lot of time here, especially because we’re short staffed right now. Our staff was subjected to a lot of cold or hot situations. My staff are sitting in front of seven computer screens that are run by four different systems, plus two large TV screens on the wall to help monitor cameras, etc., so I wanted them to be as comfortable as possible.”

The desks were installed in December and were funded through the UNLPD budget. The department took great care in selecting their consoles and worked with multiple vendors and other departments who had experience with the technologies before selecting one.

“Our purchasing and procuring unit here at UNL is phenomenal,” Haake said. They were great about helping me move that process along in a timely manner so that we could get something under contract before the end of the last fiscal year.”

Haake is pleased with the upgrades and looks forward to continuing to make a difference in her role as dispatch director. A Nebraska U alumna, Haake comes from a law enforcement background and has a passion for dispatching.

Haake was a university dispatcher for seven years before working for the Nebraska Supreme Court until she assumed her current role. She is currently hiring dispatchers. Those interested in applying can do so here.

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