Photo courtesy of Tami Grey
Dispatcher Bill Grey at work in the cramped dispatch office of the Police Station in the Town Hall on Main Street. Police dispatchers were first hired by the Police Department in 1959 following the installation of a base radio in the Police Station. During the many decades before this time, phone company operators working at the switchboard office in downtown Littleton, answered calls for both the Fire Department and Police Department. These cool-headed and resourceful operators, exclusively women, would relay calls by phone to the policeman in the Town Hall or at his home. If the operator were unable to reach the officer by phone, she would alert him of a pending call by switching on a red light that was mounted high atop a utility pole on a downtown street corner. Upon seeing the red light, the officer would contact the operator by phone or in-person to take the call. The era of the capable phone operator ended in Littleton in 1954 when the phone company switched to dial service, thus allowing callers to bypass the operator when placing a call. Fire Department dispatchers were then hired to answer phone calls for both the Fire and Police Departments. Calls were still dispatched by telephone or in-person until two-way radios were adopted shortly thereafter.