The world of dispatch at the Hurst Police Department in 2014 was difficult.
The understaffed department — four dispatchers and some part-timers — handled 33,670 calls to 911 last year. That same staff answered 71,130 non-emergency calls, and they made 29,095 outgoing calls to other agencies for law enforcement information.
A full communications department in Hurst would have had 12 dispatchers available, but retirement and other staff changes reduced the department to four full-time last year.
Their leader, the always smiling and laughing Stephanie Morales, 28, of Arlington, kept the team professional and trained, police officials said.
For those reasons Morales was chosen as the police department’s Civilian of the Year.
“This last year has been a hard year for dispatch and Stephanie has maintained a great attitude and shown a willingness to learn any and all responsibilities that are expected of her,” Police Chief Steve Moore said during his presentation of the award to Morales in February. “She is dedicated to her fellow dispatchers and to the department.”
Morales, who has been with the department six years and is now a communications supervisor, said the key to getting through last year was her fellow dispatchers.
“We couldn’t have gotten through it without supporting each other,” she said.
Morales didn’t start out in law enforcement, but the television series “Rescue 911” inspired her. She was dispatching Time Warner cable technicians when she applied with Hurst police seven years ago.
“I got hired and it turned my world upside down,” Morales said.
She has an older brother who works with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, but he lives in another state and couldn’t provide any insights into local law enforcement.
“When you’re on 24-7 and a single mom, it took some adjustments,” said Morales who is the mother of two young boys. “But the people here have been great. I love it here.”
In her time with the department, Morales has answered hundreds of calls ranging from routine traffic problems to domestic disputes.
Her dedication shows an unwavering “can do” attitude, police officials said.
“Even through what the department went through last year, she has kept a positive attitude,” said police Lt. Jim Pell, an administrative lieutenant who is over the communications department. “She has been just an phenomenal employee.”
Domingo Ramirez Jr., 817-390-7763