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Mount Olive Communications Center Stays Calm Under Pressure

Mar 01, 2023 04:39PM ● By Evan Wechman

Mount Olive Police Lieutenant Mike Cordileone knows how important it is to remain calm during an emergency.  He has been with the department for 25 years and has seen everything from routine accidents to senseless fatalities.

Cordileone started as a patrol officer for Mount Olive in 1997.  After close to a decade, he was promoted to Sergeant in 2011 and finally to Lieutenant in 2016.  He currently oversees the Mount Olive Communications Center which is more commonly referred to as the 911 dispatch center.

There is an incredible amount of responsibility involved for Cordileone and his staff, which currently consists of eight full-time communications officers.  Together, they handle between 900-1000 calls a month for the town.

The most common calls involve domestic disturbances or car crashes.  However, according to Cordileone, they must be ready for almost anything.  “We dispatch for emergency services as well as police services.  We do medical dispatch too, so we’ll give medical instructions over the 911 system if somebody calls in and someone’s not breathing, and the person wants to help perform CPR.  We can give those instructions.”

In addition, if there are hurricanes or other weather emergencies, they are ready to help.  Cordileone says “we can and have operated an emergency operations center in the past.  And we work in coordination with the county, local phone, local electric companies like JCP&L (Jersey Central Power & Light) and gas companies to make sure people have the services they need.”

Cordileone refers to his dispatchers in the 911 center as Communications Officers.  Though they are not police officers, they possess many of the same skills. These officers are responsible for working hand in hand not only with police officers, but with other emergency departments such as paramedics and the fire department. Cordileone realizes his unit must be prepared for almost anything any given day.

This position is not for everyone. According to Cordileone, “the officers must have the ability to work in a stressful environment, the ability to make decisions, the ability to listen and most importantly understand what people are looking for and to get them the appropriate resources.”

The unit also must do this rapidly.  Once the communications center receives a call, they can start dispatching it to the appropriate emergency team within about ten seconds.  

However, Cordileone does foresee some changes occurring in the next few years.  Both the federal and state government are working on expanding the 911 system to enable both texting and video functionality.  This will help different populations such as people who are deaf.  Also, if drivers see an emergency on the road, they can send video.  Cordileone expects these expansions to be completed within about a year.

Lieutenant Cordileone not only hires and trains his staff but goes the extra mile for the unit by securing grants for all necessities.  When New Jersey mandated body worn cameras for police officers in 2021, the lieutenant secured funding for this equipment as well as replacements too. This was also a savings for the residents of Mount Olive.

Most importantly, Cordileone says he “wants the public to know that we’re here for them 24/7 so if they need something, don’t hesitate to call.”