Here at the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) we are deeply saddened by the shooting death of California Highway Patrol (CHP) Officer Kenyon Youngstrom. Our thoughts and prayers are with Officer Youngstrom's family, friends and fellow officers during this time of overwhelming grief.
Our thoughts and appreciation are also with our CSLEA members who are CHP dispatchers who remained calm, professional and efficient as they assisted with this horrific emergency.
"They don't get to react with shock, tears or a breakdown," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona. "When 11-99 is heard over the radio, it's a dire emergency, an officer is down. It's tense. It's extreme pressure. And if you listen to the recordings, you know our CHP dispatchers are the best."
Officer Youngstrom was shot and killed during a traffic stop Tuesday on Interstate 680 near Alamo. The suspect was also shot and killed. At the time of the shooting, CHP dispatchers fielded the many 911 calls that came into the dispatch center, made calls for emergency medical help to respond to the scene, and communicated with officers who were either at or responding to the scene.
When others might get to experience emotion, CHP dispatchers are trained to set their own feelings aside and focus on the emergency task at hand.
"It is imperative that we stay in control to make sure our officers get the assistance they need," said Tina Brazil, president of the California Highway Patrol Public Safety Dispatchers Association (CHP-PSDA). "Every day when we sit down and plug into our radios, we take responsibility for our officers on the road, that's just how we feel, it’s our job to take care of them."
Brazil added, “My heart goes out to my dispatchers at the Golden Gate Communication Center. It's heartbreaking to be in the comm center and look at all the faces when this situation or any serious call is occurring. But, they will each be at their best, doing everything that needs to be done, taking care of the officers on the road and taking care of each other in the comm center. CHP dispatchers are the best, and I am very proud of each one of them.”
(Several news agencies have placed the dispatch recordings on their websites)