Duncan honored as ECO of year

Published 10:09 pm Thursday, April 12, 2012

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of stories on police personnel who recently received department-wide awards.

In an emergency dispatch career that has spanned nearly 21 years, Nicole Duncan has heard some pretty strange calls.

One of the strangest was about 12 years ago, when a man called to report a murder he had witnessed. As he gave her the location and names of suspects, she grew suspicious.

Duncan

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“I began to realize it all sounds very familiar,” she said recently. And then it hit her: “The person was reporting a murder that had occurred on a soap opera on TV. I had seen the same episode.”

Duncan still sent an officer to the scene to make sure everything was OK. Apparently, the man truly thought the murder of Carlo from “One Life to Live” had occurred in Suffolk.

“They thought it was something they had actually witnessed,” she said. “And they did, but it was on the tube.”

For her dedication to the job — even when the calls don’t end so well — Duncan was honored in February as the 2011 Emergency Communications Operator of the Year.

Duncan regularly takes on ancillary duties to make sure the communications center and the entire department run smoothly. She is the VCIN/NCIC instructor for the department and continuously organizes classes to keep the officers and dispatchers updated and certified.

She also is trained as a quality control expert and reviews calls to make suggestions on how to serve the citizens better. She also serves on the Supervisors Communications Committee, offering her suggestions and insight on communication within the department.

Duncan, who simply applied for an opening in the center when she moved to the city 21 years ago, said she was grateful to receive the award but that any of her coworkers could have earned it.

“I think there are many people back there that could hold this title this year,” she said. “There are plenty of people that are deserving of it.”

For Duncan, the most rewarding part of the job “is at the end of a shift when no one gets hurt, and everybody goes home safely,” she said. “We do all we can to assist that.”

Sgt. Sandra Springle, who nominated Duncan for the award, said Duncan “maintains a professional and efficient center at all times and is well respected by everyone she works with.”

Duncan has been married to Suffolk Police Lt. Timothy Duncan for 20 years. They have two children, Lauren and Joseph.