Dispatcher Wolfe Steps Down Ranked No. 9 in the StatePublished: February 15, 2010
Dick Wolfe loves his job as a CSULB police dispatcher. He must; he’s been doing it for the past 35 years. But, in March he is set to retire.
“It’s time,” he said. “My Social Security will kick in in another year and I will be making more money retired than working.” Can’t argue with that logic.
However, Wolfe doesn’t expect to walk away completely from the position he has occupied for three-plus decades, and will possibly return part-time to fill in when needed. And, if he’s needed at the last minute, that won’t be a problem for him since for Wolfe it’s almost literally a walk across the campus to get to work.
“I live seven houses off of Atherton so I can walk to work if I want to,” said Wolfe, noting that he grew up in the same house as a child. “I remember when the campus was nothing but fields over on that side where the Pyramid and Carpenter Center are now. We had a lot of fun in those days skateboarding and stuff. We got thrown off campus many times.”
Wolfe, who officially started on Nov. 26, 1974, has seen his steady rise on the seniority charts, and not just at CSULB. Currently, he ranks No. 9 for longevity for all police dispatchers in the state of California, of which there are more than 7,000.
“Yeah, that’s pretty cool,” he said. “I imagine those who have been doing it longer than me are in some small operations. I am very fortunate to have been at this university that long.”
Many members of Wolfe’s family have and are serving in law enforcement, so he has stayed in the family business. But, moving to work for a larger police dispatch unit never, ever crossed his mind.
“Why would I do that?” he said. “Some of those jobs have a lot of pressure and I didn’t need that. There are times when this place gets very busy, but generally it’s not too bad. I just wanted to be happy and I was happy here. This has been a great place to work.”
In his early days before becoming a dispatcher, he was a lifeguard, served in the military and worked in the aerospace industry for a time before being hired at CSULB. Then, following two weeks of being “trained” by a campus security officer, Wolfe was at the helm.
“It was just a telephone and me,” he said. “I would write things down, but nothing was ever recorded or filed away. Today, everything is recorded.”
“Richard Wolfe is a good dispatcher,” said communications and information systems manager Greg Pascal, who has overseen dispatcher operations at the university for the past 13-plus years. “He’s been here since I was 2 years old. When he began this place was a not much more than a switchboard after hours.”
Obvoiusly, it’s evolved quite a bit, with technology affecting nearly every bit of what a dispatcher does.
“It’s amazing to see how much things have changed,” said Wolfe, who has taken thousands of calls, some for the simplest of things, while others have a greater sense of urgency. “It certainly makes us more efficient and hopefully the campus a safer place.”
Wolfe, who generally works the graveyard shift, which currently is from 6 p.m.-6 a.m., says he loves it.
“From 1-6 a.m. it’s just me and you never know when the phone is going to ring and what a call is going to entail,” he said. “I‘ve seen a lot of things while on duty. About the only thing we haven’t had is a campus homicide, but that’s a good thing.”
“Dick Wolfe has certainly been an institution for more than three decades here at Cal State Long Beach,” said University Police Chief Stan Skipworth. “To be here all those years and change with the times as he has says a lot of his abilities. I know he loves his job as a dispatcher as well as this campus. He will certainly be missed, but we wish him all the best.”