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‘It’s hard to be here on Christmas’: Dispatchers, police officers spend holiday at work

Posted at 5:36 PM, Dec 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-25 19:36:22-05

KEARNS, Utah — It’s not easy to leave your loved ones and spend a holiday at work. When your job is to help others, the office never closes.

The Salt Lake Valley Emergency Communications Center (VECC) looked a little different Wednesday. Dispatchers wore pajamas, “Elf” was playing on mute and a breakfast spread filled the middle of the room.

Two of the VECC Operations Supervisors cooked all the food for the Christmas breakfast, along with their husbands.

It was important to invite the first responders as well, supervisor Missy Widdison said.

“We wanted them to get to know the dispatchers and the dispatchers to get to know them because when they put a face with a voice... it really helps them,” she said.

9-1-1 dispatcher Ashley Peck was one of the many people working and enjoying the breakfast. The kindness of others makes the day a little easier.

“It’s hard to be here on Christmas, but to realize that you are making a difference when people can be safe at home asleep and you’re helping them,” she said.

The job is personal for her.

“My husband is a police officer for South Salt Lake and so this is personal for me," she said. "He is my everything, same with my kids, and so I want to make sure the officers go home safe."

Her husband was home with her kids Christmas morning as she spent her possibly last Christmas at the VECC.

“I am self-sponsoring and putting myself through the police academy, and I am going to dispatch while I am doing that, so it’ll be fun. It is trying to make my dream come true,” she said.

Next year, she could be out patrolling the streets like Officer Brady Robinson, who is also used to working the holidays away from loved ones.

“The hardest part is being away from my boys in the morning,” he said.

The holidays are usually fairly quiet, Robinson said as he rode around Kearns, Utah.

“If we do get busy, it is usually with domestic violence,” he said.

Those are never easy calls, especially on a day like Christmas, he said.

“It is hard for me to understand why people get together on Thanksgiving and Christmas and these special holidays and they end up getting involved in domestic violence situations,” Robinson said.

Although it’s not an easy job, it’s one Robinson loves.

“If I can at least do my part, then I can become an old man and sit back and talk to my grandkids and share stories with them, and know that I did something that was meaningful, at least in my opinion,” he said.

The day started out peaceful, something Robinson and Peck hoped would continue.