The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) named Tonya Hattaway of Smithville as the 2012 Dispatcher of the Year at a special award ceremony held Thursday evening in Murfreesboro. Hattaway, who is assigned to the THP’s Cookeville District, earned the honor for an incident last February in which she helped find a woman who was thought to be harmful to herself and sent a trooper to the woman’s aide.
“Hattaway always goes the extra mile for the safety of her colleagues and the public. She strives to go above and beyond in every situation and lives have been saved because of it,” Colonel Tracy Trott said.
Tonya Hattaway earned the THP Dispatcher of the Year honor for preventing a possible suicide attempt in February 2012 after she received a call from a distressed woman who believed a loved one was traveling by car to Crossville with intentions of taking her own life. Hattaway requested the troubled woman’s cell phone number and contacted her several times to establish her location. Hattaway spent three hours trying to locate the woman. Once she did, Hattaway dispatched a trooper to her location; the trooper made contact and transported the woman to a hospital where she could receive help. Hattaway was also instrumental in the arrest of a child predator in Dekalb County. Hattaway and the trooper she was assisting looked beyond a “normal traffic stop” and determined the driver, who had a teenage girl with him, was wanted for child molestation in another county.
In addition to Hattaway’s statewide recognition, dispatchers in each of the THP’s districts received district Dispatcher of the Year honors.
“The THP dispatchers are unsung heroes, the ones who keep in constant contact with all troopers to help ensure their safety and the safety of the public,” Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons said. “They are an absolute vital part of the Highway Patrol and share the title of ‘Tennessee’s Finest,’” Gibbons added.
Trina Hinchey is the Dispatcher of the Year from the THP’s Knoxville District. Hinchey was on duty last year when a man from Michigan, who was on his way to Atlanta for cancer treatment, was involved in an accident on Interstate-75 in Knox County. The man’s dog ran from the crash scene after the accident. Hinchey took it upon herself to get and send out information on the lost dog. Hinchey continued to keep in touch with the man throughout the day, even going to visit him at a local hotel and brought him food and money. While she was visiting the man, he was reunited with his dog after a citizen found and returned it. Hinchey was also on duty March 13,2012 when a crash occurred on I-75 in which a truck driver was burned inside. Her supervisors say she displayed professionalism, sent extra personnel and TDOT workers to the scene to detour traffic. This occurred on the same day as a rockslide in the area, and the same day that a state trooper was involved in a serious injury accident. Despite the busy day, Hinchey’s supervisors say she “handled it all in a calm, professional, and efficient manner.”
The Dispatcher of the Year from THP’s Chattanooga District is David Josh Winters. He is described as “an example of what we would like all employees to be.” Winters serves his colleagues and the public in a an efficient and professional manner each day. Winters has been the key to improving the training program in the Chattanooga District and is one of the primary certified training officers there. His dedication to training new employees shows in the daily performance of the personnel in the communications center. That dedication to making the THP a better organization has set Winters apart from others and has earned him this honor.
In THP’s Nashville District, Darlene Hauskins is the Dispatcher of the Year. Hauskins performed her duties in 2012 with a zero percentage error rate. Her supervisors stress that she demonstrates her dedication to her job as a dispatcher and making sure her job is done right. Her on-the-job mentality has been described as “results, not excuses.” Hauskins spent many hours in 2012 training four new dispatchers hired that year. She stepped up and gave them extra time and effort that they needed to complete the program and be successful dispatchers. Hauskins was essential in training and maintaining qualified dispatchers to ensure the safety of the troopers and the public.
Tequilla N. Daniels is the Dispatcher of the Year from the THP’s Memphis District. Daniels was contacted by the Memphis Police Department last August about a homicide suspect who was thought to be travelling on Interstate-40 in the district. Shortly after an advisory was issued, a trooper observed a vehicle matching the description of the suspect’s vehicle. Daniels confirmed this was the suspect wanted for allegedly murdering his wife, and dispatched another THP unit to assist. A 15-mile pursuit of the suspect ended after the vehicle hit deployed spike strips and crashed. During the course of the pursuit, Daniels remained calm and provided pertinent information, directions, and updates to the troopers involved. Upon learning that the suspect had planned to commit “suicide by cop,” Daniels understood the heightened risk and broadcasted the information immediately. Daniels’ ability to stay focused and remain calm may well have thwarted a potentially deadly situation.
The Dispatcher of the Year from the THP’s Fall Branch District is Rebecca Casey. Described as dependable and efficient, Casey is credited with improving and streamlining the various job tasks that are required in the radio room. Casey also serves as one of the radio operators for the Tennessee Highway Patrol at the Bristol Speedway. Each year, the district office receives compliments from the other agencies involved on how well Casey performs her duties to keep the public safe during this event. Casey’s supervisors say she is “truly an asset” to the THP.
Cynthia Krause is the Dispatcher of the Year for the THP’s Lawrenceburg District. Krause is credited for going above and beyond the call of duty to help a trooper in need. Last August, Krause was assisting a trooper who was attempting to arrest a man during a traffic stop for not having a license. An altercation occurred between the subject and the trooper. The trooper shot the subject, who got back in his vehicle and pursuit ensued. Krause handled the incident with the utmost professionalism. She was methodical in her approach and was extremely supportive of the trooper. Krause used her dispatch knowledge, experience, and talent to attempt to find any information on the subject. After a lengthy search, she found that the subject had a warrant issued out of Indiana, his driver license had been suspended, and he had a long criminal history in several states. Krause was a tremendous asset in finding the identity of the subject and located information on him when no one else could. The subject was ultimately apprehended and arrested.
The THP Jackson District has named Adam Forsythe as the 2012 Dispatcher of the Year. Forsythe is known as a dedicated and loyal employee. He has been instrumental in establishing the original dispatcher training program for the Jackson District. Forsythe has also provided valuable input and assistance during the design and remodel of the radio room at the Jackson Headquarters. His supervisors say that Forsythe cheerfully assists with computer projects and with the daily operations in the radio room. He is described as displaying “the attributes that any dispatcher should strive to attain.”