Archive for Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Police dispatcher a true city treasure

November 20, 2002

Talk about unsung heroes.

Mike Vestal, who's been dispatching Tonganoxie police officers for nearly 30 years, was honored last week for his service to the community. The police department also recognized Cecil Vinyard, a longtime Tonganoxie police officer.

And while the contributions of both men are many, it's Vestal who deserves more than just a few moments in the limelight.

Every day of the week, Vestal's voice is heard loud and clear over police radios. He's more than a dispatcher. He's something of a protective shadow that accompanies police officers and even sheriff's officers, other dispatchers and firefighters as they perform their jobs.

If a police officer makes a traffic stop on the now-busy and potentially dangerous U.S. Highway 24-40, Vestal is quick to check on the officer, if he thinks the officer is away from his or her cruiser too long.

When officers are hurrying to find an address in a new area of town, it's Vestal who tells them how many doors from the corner a particular house is. Oftentimes, he even knows the color of all the houses on the block. And he's been known to tell officers which door to enter.

One often wonders if he could tell the officers the full names of each person who ever lived in Tonganoxie. Perhaps he's just waiting to be asked.

Vestal is an amazing encyclopedia of Tonganoxie knowledge.

And his dedication to police officers and the department and the entire city of Tonganoxie is unparalleled.

He works between 12 and 14 hours a day, seven days a week. But he doesn't always stop there. In Vestal's own words: "I quit at 10:30 at night. But if something's going on, I stay up late until they're finished with whatever they're doing."

That's typical of Vestal, a man who truly loves what he's doing for each of us in Tonganoxie.

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