Public safety dispatcher Eric Guerrero was already certified as an emergency telecommunicator, emergency fire dispatcher, and emergency medical dispatcher when he started working at University Police Services in 2018.
The communication studies student, who expects to graduate in spring 2022, has been full time with campus police for nearly two years. After learning the trade in high school, Guerrero knows that being on the front lines to help people in need is where he belongs.
What inspired you to become a student dispatcher?
My passion for dispatching started in high school. I attended Veterans Tribute Career and Technical Academy, a high school in Las Vegas that offers programs focused on public safety, where I was a part of their emergency telecommunications program. Being part of that program made me realize that dispatching was a career I wanted to pursue. While attending UNLV, my friend Ricardo reached out and told me that police services was looking for a student dispatcher. I applied and soon enough found myself in training. About a year later, there was an opening for a full-time dispatcher position and I decided to give it a shot, and here I am now a year and nine months later enjoying every minute of it.
What is the biggest misconception about your job?
That we are always are getting “crazy” or “weird” calls. Although we do get a good amount of what I would call “interesting” calls, the majority of the calls we receive are non-emergency calls with questions or service requests that are not necessarily law enforcement-related.
Is this what you thought you’d do when you grew up?
Absolutely not. As a kid, I always said I wanted to be a teacher but once I found myself in my high school's dispatch program, I immediately knew that this was what I wanted to do. Now I don’t see myself working in any other field.
What should people be prepared for when they call 911?
When calling 911, the best piece of advice I can give is to be prepared to answer questions and know that, although we may ask a lot of questions, the questions we are asking do not delay the time it will take for an officer to arrive and assist. When taking calls, we try to get as much information as possible for our officers to have a better understanding of what is going on and the type of response that is needed.
What is one of the coolest things you’ve been able to do or take part in while working with police services?
When I was first working as a student dispatcher, I had the opportunity to work in the command center for the National Finals Rodeo that was held at the Thomas & Mack Center. I thought it was really cool being able to work alongside other agencies and the command staff; watching over the event and providing resources for the officers working.
Tell us about a moment in life you’d like to re-live.
Skydiving! I’ve done it twice this year and I would do it a million more times. The feeling you get when falling through the sky is unexplainable and I recommend everyone try it at least once.
With the winter holidays approaching, what is your favorite holiday food?
This is a super hard question, but I would say that my favorite food during the holidays is conchas (Mexican sweet bread) with Abuelita hot chocolate. If you haven’t tried it, you should.
What was your best police services Secret Santa gift?
There was one year that my Secret Santa kept me stocked up with peanut M&M’s and Starbucks double shots every week leading up to Christmas.
What are you most excited to do now that summer temperatures have subsided? Is there anything you miss about Vegas summer heat?
Miss? About the heat? Absolutely nothing. I love the colder weather, wearing hoodies, and having bonfires with friends. I pulled out my winter clothes the minute the Vegas temperatures dropped below 80 degrees, I am ready.