RACINE — For Brandy Laudermilt, protecting law enforcement officers is her No. 1 priority.
For the past 15 years, Laudermilt has served as a dispatcher for the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and during that time she’s made lifelong friends who will continue to be a part of her life long after her career is finished.
During her time as a dispatcher, Laudermilt says she’s heard it all, from calls about assaults in prisons to calls of an inebriated man operating a lawn mower. But she said no matter the subject of the call, it’s about keeping her officers safe, both in Athens, where she works full time, and at the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office, where she serves as a part-time dispatcher.
“My main goal is to make sure my units are safe, and no matter (if they’re) in a black uniform or a gray uniform, that they go home to their families,” she said. “They’re my main concern. Even if the phone is ringing nonstop, my guys and gals on the road come first — always.”
And it’s these troopers and deputies who recently thanked Laudermilt for her service by awarding her Dispatcher of the Year honors.
Laudermilt said her decision for a career, which began in 2001, was practically predestined since law enforcement runs in her family. And she said the key to the job, which can be extremely stressful depending on the calls that come in, is to be constantly vigilant.
“Just make sure you’re taking all the notes, all the pertinent information,” she said. “And if (the other person) is being very unprofessional, you say, ‘Hey, listen. I’m here to help you. You either have to slow down … I need to have information about (the issue).’”
She said there are differences with her two jobs, including face-to-face interaction versus mainly talking on the phone, but that she loves both positions. She said the friendships she’s made through her jobs are ones that have lasted both in and outside the workplace.
“I love the interaction with my troopers and my deputies,” she said. “We all get along like friends in real life, as well. They become your family, they really, really do — and they would do anything.
“We’re kind of like a group here, we’re friends here. If you asked them to do something, they would do it regardless, and that’s how it is — a family.”
Before taking the position at the Athens County post, Laudermilt also worked at both the Gallipolis post and dispatch center. She’s also assisted with the Jackson dispatcher center. She received awards from the Gallipolis post in 2003-2005, the Jackson district in 2005 and 2006, and recognition from Athens in 2012.
“I’m honored to be awarded,” she said. “I don’t like to sell myself. I don’t boast. I’m very humble.
“I like other people to get recognition instead of me, and I think that’s where it needs to be — with the deputies and troopers. They do so much more than what meets the eye, and there’s a lot of bad publicity (about cops) — and I don’t like that. Everybody has rotten eggs in their department, but 99 percent of them are heartwarming and are good people.”
Reach Lindsay Kriz at 740-992-2155 EXT. 2555.