When somebody calls the UCLA Police Department, our dispatchers are the first, first responders, always available 24/7 when someone is in need. For 15 years, one of the voices on the other end of the line has been Dispatch Supervisor Najala Baker.
Najala is one of two supervisors in charge of scheduling a team of 10 dispatchers and overseeing the dispatch training program. Moving into a supervisory position five years ago, she still dispatches on a regular basis, a job that she loves because she’s helping people.
Whether police, fire, or medical personnel need to be dispatched, Najala is ready to respond. But what might be surprising is the number of people who call and just need some companionship.
“Sometimes elderly people who live by themselves and don't have anyone to talk to, they'll call 9-1-1 just to hear a friendly voice,” says Najala. “If I could help a person just have a good day, that's great for me, because that makes me have a good day.”
Even before working in law enforcement, Najala was helping people with emergency roadside service at AAA. Part of her job was assisting police departments whenever they needed towing services for AAA members. It was when a CHP dispatcher she talked to encouraged her to work for a police department that she started her dispatching career at LAPD.
While Najala enjoyed her job as a dispatcher, it was hard to cultivate relationships and find out how calls were resolved in a department as big as LAPD, which is why after five years she moved over to the UCLA Police Department.
“At UCPD, because we're such a tightknit family and a smaller police department, I'm able to have those relationships with the officers as well as get those resolutions,” she says.
As much as she likes helping the public, she also enjoys assisting the officers, EMTs, and CSOs who she works with on a daily basis.
“I like having that engagement with everyone,” says Najala, “being able to not only help the community but the police department as well.