ORO VALLEY, Ariz. (KGUN) — When you dial 9-1-1, Makenna Ritzel is one of the many dispatchers ready to help.
"Some days we get really busy and there are a lot of calls we have to take," said Ritzel.
At just 18-years-old, Ritzel is getting a head start on a career she has always dreamed of.
"When I was younger, I said I wanted to be a cop. When I got older I started looking into the police department," said Ritzel.
Ritzel graduated from Ironwood High School and got hired on by the Oro Valley Police Department as a Public Safety Telecommunicator, shortly after.
"We're the connection between the officers and the public. We talk to people, they're super thankful, we give them to the officers and the officers help them. It's cool to see everything come full circle," said Ritzel.
In a few years, Ritzel will be old enough to train to become a police officer. Until then, she is learning what it's like to serve the community she grew up in.
"There are different positions that can get you in the door, kind of like Makenna got to do. It exposes you to what this job entails and find out if it is something you really want to do," said Officer Mike Duran with the Oro Valley Police Department.
"You just don't realize how much police officers and firefighters help with things until you go into the workforce for that area," said Ritzel.
The Oro Valley Police Department wants to make sure the hard work within every role is recognized.
"Dispatchers do the exact same work, they do the same hours and they don't always get the attention they deserve. They want to help people. We want to make sure they are recognized for that," said Duran.
Megan Meier is a reporter for KGUN 9. Megan graduated from Arizona State Universityʼs Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications in May 2018. While pursuing her degree in broadcast journalism, Megan interned at the City of Phoenix. Share your story ideas and important issues with Megan by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.