New dispatcher grew up at WPD

The new dispatcher at the Wapakoneta Police Department spent time in the office through the years and knew even then it was something she wanted to do.

“I always wanted to do it,” Ashley McEldowney, 21, of rural Wapakoneta, said.

Her father cleans the Wapakoneta City Administration Building offices, and growing up she always came with him to the job and would spend time visiting with dispatchers, even sitting on their laps.

“I thought it was really cool,” McEldowney said. “I’ve been around a long time. I never once thought I wanted to do anything different.”

She said she was entranced by everything about the job.

McEldowney said even though it was a long-time dream of hers, she never thought she would achieve it.

A 2009 graduate of St. Marys High School, McEldowney has at least 12 weeks of training. She began studying corrections and criminal justice but struggled to go to school and work two, and at times even three, part-time jobs after having her daughter, Raegan Caffee, now 3.

After passing the civil service test for the dispatcher job, McEldowney interviewed first with Wapakoneta Police Chief Russ Hunlock and then the department’s lieutenants.

Hunlock said McEldowney makes a good addition to the department.

“I have been impressed with her progress so far,” Hunlock said, explaining that while there is still a lot to learn, McEldowney is motivated and shows genuine interest in the job. “We are happy to have her aboard.”

“Everybody is good to me,” McEldowney said. “It’s way better than factory work.

“It’s nice when you are where you want to be at,” the single mother said.

The daughter of Peggy and Jerry McEldowney is training under dispatcher Nikki Sawmiller and is experiencing a variety of shifts. They have spent a lot of time reviewing policies and what to do in certain instances, reviewing who to call for assistance, and taking calls as they come into the office.

McEldowney said challenges of the job include multi-tasking — listing to a caller on the phone and officers out on a call — and not being emotional when she has a serious call.

“You have to be able to be polite and handle situations as they happen,” McEldowney said.

She said she has confidence she will figure out situations with which she is presented.

“I plan to stay here until I retire,” McEldowney said.