Former BHC dispatcher gets ‘out of the office and on the street’

Dillon Dosson joins Red Lodge Police Department as a new officer
Thursday, April 4, 2019

Photo by Andrew Turck

Dillon Dosson, left, stands by Big Horn County Undersheriff Rudolph King the morning of Tuesday, March 26 in a Hardin parking lot. It was Dosson’s final day as a dispatcher for the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office.

A former dispatcher for the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office has departed his job of more than three years and, as of last Thursday, was sworn in about 100 miles to the southwest as an officer for the Red Lodge Police Department.

Likening Dillon Dosson’s previous role in Hardin to an “ambassador” for the Sheriff’s Office, local Undersheriff Rudolph King said he is “going to be a heck of a good asset for the City of Red Lodge.”

“We’re going to lose one of our better employees,” he continued.

According to King, he was reluctant to see Dosson go, but recalled a discussion with Sheriff Lawrence “Pete” Big Hair where they agreed their dispatcher needed to “try his wings.” After all, King continued, he and Big Hair had joined the U.S. Marine Corps years ago for a similar reason.

“The way that I look at it,” King said, “the only way you’re going to learn how to fly is if you get out there and see what’s going on in the real world.”

Having grown up as a homeschooled student in Lodge Grass, Dosson spent the majority of his life in Big Horn County.

While a resident, he saw an advertisement from the Sheriff’s Office looking for a dispatcher and decided to apply.

Dispatch, he found, was a 911 answering service that worked in cooperation with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to send police, fire and medical personnel to any location in the county.

Often, according to Dosson, he talked to people “on the worst day of their” lives, which can be stressful, but “it absolutely can be very gratifying” to help them work toward a solution. Over the years, he “enjoyed the business of some of your crazier calls,” but also learned to further empathize with his fellow residents.

“One time, I was able to talk to a kid as he was [attempting] to commit suicide,” he said. “We were able to get help to him… and everything turned out for the best.”

While on dispatch, Dosson felt a draw to “get out of the office and get on the street” with law enforcement. Often, he listened both over the radio and through residents’ phones as deputies responded to calls and worked to alleviate difficult situations.

He eventually decided to apply for such a position through the Montana Law Enforcement Testing Consortium, organized statewide by police chiefs to find qualified candidates. Using the test’s written and physical fitness portions, Red Lodge Chief of Police Jason J. Wells located five people to interview as part of an oral board. Dosson, Wells said, was one of two people hired through the process.

After a “thorough background check,” Wells said, the department gave Dosson a conditional offer of employment. The former dispatcher has, according to Wells, “the right attitude for police work.”

“He has a calm temperament, and seems that he wants to work with the public and build up public trust,” Wells said. “That’s what I’m looking for in our officers; [I want them] dependable, honest and trustworthy.”

Over the next 10 weeks, Dosson will be paired up with fellow officers for training on, among other aspects, law enforcement etiquette and proper investigative techniques.

“The 10th week, he will be on his own with an officer who’s in plainclothes and that officer will evaluate him for a week,” Wells said. “If [the officer] feels he’s making the standards we are expecting here at Red Lodge, he will then be on his own.”

After the phase-in period, if everything works out as expected, Red Lodge will send Dosson to the Helena’s Montana Law Enforcement Academy in September for further training. Upon completion of academy instruction, Wells said, Dosson “will go into the rotation.”

“He will have about five months of intense training before we set him loose on the street,” he said.

Reflecting on his time as a dispatcher, Dosson summed up the experience by saying it was “a fun job, but a very challenging job as well.” Whoever takes over such a position will play an important role, he continued, and need to handle stress.

“I really hate to leave this place; I love it here,” he said of Big Horn County. “Hopefully, I can come back some day.”

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