FEATURE STORY: The calming, voice in ‘the dark’

Leslie Queen/Queen Family Photos

COCHRAN, GEORGIA: Ask anyone if they know who Leslie Queen, age 47, is, and more than half of the folks will say yes, and then, you should be ready to sit a spell as you will be entertained and moved by stories about Leslie and her ‘heart of gold.’

And that is why she was nominated as a ‘good neighbor.’ Well, because she is good people.

Leslie serves as the director of the Bleckley 911 Center. Yup, she is the one who you hear on the end of the phone with a steady tone, and calms you during some of your most anxious and frantic times.

“I started dispatching in 2003. My good, and longtime, friend, Monica Dubois knew I was looking for a job and she suggested I apply at Laurens County 911 and so I did and got hired thankfully,” Leslie said.

She continued, “Back then if you would have asked me, I would’ve said there is no way I will be able to make it through the training. I cried so many times it was unreal … the pressure and stress.”

“But I refused to be defeated, and I pushed through all the craziness, the training and the doubt,” Leslie explained.

She left there in 2011, and decided to take a break. “I struggled with those night shifts, and 12 hour shifts.”

Leslie ventured into her own at-home business. After a bit, she went to work at a title pawn business. “I stayed there a couple years, but something was really missing, and I was tired of chasing people for money, when I was struggling myself.”

She knew what was missing … her career as a dispatcher was calling her back. “I guess, yes, you could say the career chose me, because it was in my blood, and I knew I wouldn’t be happy until I got back to it.” Leslie dispatched for a year in Bleckley County, then relocated to Twiggs County’s 911, where she worked for four years.

Bleckley County 911 was in mourning … as their director had died unexpectedly. But, they were in need of someone to take over. Leslie got the call. “I didn’t hesitate … all the stress, all the bad calls, all the good calls, all the hours and all the night shifts had come full circle.” She had worked under the former director, and was honored.

“I am so blessed beyond measure with such a great group of dispatchers … anyone who knows me knows where my loyalty is when it comes to my career … couldn’t imagine doing anything else ever.”

Leslie said, “It is so rewarding being able to help people, but being able to be there for someone on what could be the worst day of their life … that’s where the real payoff is, and every day is different.”

She added, “I think that is what has kept me in for so long. I tell people dispatching or law enforcement period is like the mafia….once you’re in, it’s hard to get out.”

Raised in Byron, Leslie was educated in Crawford County, but has lived in the Bleckley County area for about 30 years. She has a son, Matthew, who is licensed electrician, and married to Amber, who Leslie calls her “wonderful RN daughter in love.” Amber and Matthew are the parents of Leslie’s first and only grandchild, Ruby Caroline. “She is absolutely beautiful and precious.”

Leslie’s daughter, Kylee, is 14 and finishing up “the eighth grade … she is the one I call my mini-me because she is so much like me, it is not even funny, but she would never admit it.” Leslie also loves her two “bonus “kids, Ben, age 15 and Charley, age 14.

When asked if there was something she wished people understood about dispatchers, Leslie said, “Yes, dispatchers are super heroes. Did you know that in the state of Georgia, dispatchers are not considered first responders or emergency personnel, but clerical workers.”

“Dispatchers are true first responders … they do hear things that can’t be unheard ever,” she continued. “Please contact the governor’s office, and state representatives to help get dispatchers re-classified.”

Leslie said, “Dispatchers can and do suffer from PTSD.”

She concluded smiling, “Dispatchers do tell cops where to go.” Check out a PS to Leslie’s interview where the “Queen” shares some wisdom.

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Author: rlhwrites

Curator of prose and such.

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