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Published: Wednesday, 1/2/2008

Perrysburg Township police dispatcher retires after 30 years

Annie Herman-Alrabaya's retirement will mean more time with her granddaughters. Annie Herman-Alrabaya's retirement will mean more time with her granddaughters.

Annie Herman-Alrabaya, a veritable fixture at the Perrysburg Township Police Department, retired last week at the ripe old age of 49.

Friday marked the end of more than 30 years as a department dispatcher and records clerk. It was a bittersweet day, Ms. Herman-Alrabaya said.

"I'm telling you, I love this place. It's been good to me and my family. I'm going to miss the people. But I am not going to miss getting up in the morning," she said.

The police department was crammed into what today is Station 2 on Fort Meigs Road when she started as a dispatcher in 1977. Later that year, the current offices opened on Lime City Road, with an addition to follow.

Back then, she worked six straight shifts and had two days off. "We had to do the swing shifts, which meant you went from days to afternoons to midnights," she explained.

This lasted until 1987, when Ms. Herman-Alrabaya was put in charge of records and became a part-time dispatcher.

She said members of the public don't realize how difficult being a dispatcher can be. Hours of relative peace and quiet can be shattered by a frenzy of calls and emergencies that must be

attended to.

Her worst shift, she said, involved a police pursuit on Oregon Road that ended with five persons dead in a crash. Even though it happened years ago, she remembers it vividly, she said, especially the stress in the voice of the officer, who had broken off the chase before the crash.

"In dispatching, no two days are ever the same," Ms. Herman-Alrabaya said. "I trained here, and it was basically sink or swim. That's not the way it's done anymore. "The first week I worked by myself was horrible."

A tornado ripped through Perrysburg and knocked out all the power, she remembered.

"I was sitting in the dark with no lights, no phone, no radio. A firefighter came in and asked me why I didn't start the generator. I didn't know there was a generator," she said. "I still remember that day."

Call volumes have gone way up in the last 30 years, and the calls themselves tend to be more serious, Ms. Herman-Alrabaya said.

"That's not to say that we only had barking-dog calls back then. But things have changed. Perrysburg Township has grown a lot, and so has Owens Community College," she explained. "State Rt. 20 was just open fields when I started."

Retirement will enable her to spend more time with her two young granddaughters, one of whom lives in Omaha, and her husband of two years, Raed Alrabaya.

She'll also be able to make more trips to Cedar Point, where she loves to go on the rides, she said.

Ms. Herman-Alrabaya's responsibilities also included acting as coordinator for Operation Breadbasket, the community program that collects donations for needy families during the holiday season.

"She'll be greatly missed," Lt. Jim Pellek said. "She does so much around here."

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