Below dozens of state-of-the-art monitors in the UA police division's dispatching center sits an old, '70s-style push-button telephone. While the screens constantly update computer-generated maps and pass along information to patrol officers, the city's dispatchers keep a constant eye on the old phone.

Below dozens of state-of-the-art monitors in the UA police division's dispatching center sits an old, '70s-style push-button telephone. While the screens constantly update computer-generated maps and pass along information to patrol officers, the city's dispatchers keep a constant eye on the old phone.

"It's about 50-50 between land-line calls and cell phones in Upper Arlington," said Colleen Shaw, a permanent part-time communications technician, or "comm tech." While technology is pushing more and more users to mobile devices, the older nature of the community means the comm techs still get a lot of calls over land lines, Shaw said.

With the latter, a hard drive connected to the old phone can instantly mark the callers' addresses, and alert the dispatchers to any previous situations that have occurred at the address, such as drug-related or domestic violence runs. That information can then be relayed to officers on the street before they approach the residence.

While on-duty officers patrol Upper Arlington's streets, the dispatchers feed them a steady stream of warrant updates, calls from residents ranging from those in immediate danger to missing pets, while at the same time coordinating with the UA fire division and surrounding agencies.

Things weren't always so high-tech in the police station, according to Patti Porter, a full-time UA comm tech who has been doing the job for 31 years.

"When I first came here our radio room wasn't nearly this size," Porter said. "The playback recorder was reel to reel, and only one person was on duty at all times, initially. We would do check-up calls every hour to make sure (patrolling officers) were OK.

"When the system would go down, we'd actually bring in a cruiser to the sally port, and we would have a runner going back and forth to the car's radio. There were some interesting times."

Porter said that today's Arlington dispatchers have a variety of responsibilities besides taking 911 calls. They're kept busy entering warrants into LEADS (a law enforcement records management system), tracking down information for the detective bureau, keeping data on the city's Kind Call program, updating information on residents' alarm systems, and dozens of other tasks to keep the division running smoothly.

But when the old phone rings, everything else stops, comm tech Brooke Worster said.

"You have to be a Type A personality, and you have to be pretty organized," she said. "You have to have the ability to separate the situations. You might hear kids screaming, or parents screaming, while in your head you have your own children at home. But you have to be calming, to calm them down, and do your job by figuring out what help they need, and then getting them that help."

All of those aspects make up a level of service that Arlington residents have come to expect, Porter said. As UA and other central Ohio cities continue to discuss regionalizing services to deal with losses in state funding, the nature of dispatching services may change.

"I think eventually it will have to (regionalize), not because they want to, but because resources are so expensive and limited, and they have to share to be able to afford them. It's just the economic climate," Porter said.

"That's what scares me; not losing the personalized service so much as the service overall itself," she said. "It's a different experience when you're talking about Columbus (emergency services), because what they deal with is quantity. When you merge, that's what you're dealing with, a lot more quantity of calls. I'm not grading Columbus by any means, because I know what they do and what they work with, but it's a different experience."

"What scares me though, when you talk about merging, because we do provide that level of service, if we combine with other agencies it's probably going to go down," Shaw said. "Realistically, you're going to have less of the people who are digging for that needed information, the people who are saying, 'Wait a minute, something's not right here,' and it just seems that the level of service would have to go down."