Dispatcher has seen a lot in 30 years of service

Cameron Police Department Dispatcher Jim Camp will retire on Sept. 30 after over 30 years of service to the department. The department plans a reception for him from 2-4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4.






By Lindsey Vaculin

General Manager


Jim Camp will retire from the Cameron Police Department on Sept. 30 having spent over 30 years helping the community during some of its scariest moments.

Camp has worked in dispatch for CPD for 30 years and nine months. The department will hold a retirement reception on Oct. 4 from 2-4 p.m. for Camp and the Cameron Police Department on Highway 36 in Cameron.

Camp, who spent 17 years as a professional drummer, came to Cameron in 1981 to play for Jerry Neil. He said he was tired of the traveling life and decided to make Cameron his home.

“I love the small town life,” he said. “This was really the first place I lived by myself after so many years on the road.”

Camp joined the Cameron Fire Department for 10 years and then saw that the police department needed a dispatcher and decided that would be a good fit for him.

He was trained by Helen Reyes and Mary Jo Woods and has been helping people ever since.

“I really enjoy helping other people when they are in trouble,” he said. “You have to listen and get them going in the right direction. Take a house fire; you have to ask if everybody is out of the house and safe and make sure the first responders have all the information needed to know what they are looking at.”

Camp said he has seen a lot of change in dispatching since he began and really loves the implementation of Google maps and the fact that you can now see the exact location someone is calling from and find out if there are hydrants available for the fire department or not.

One of the biggest events Camp has worked as a dispatcher was the 1987 fertilizer plant fire. He said it was interesting to coordinate with the Cameron and Rockdale Fire Departments as well as the State Fire Marshalls Office, Texas Air Quality and Texas Water Quality to keep everyone safe.

“The town had to be evacuated due to the wind blowing towards Brookshire Brothers,” he said. “The Rockdale Fire Department could see the flames from Rockdale.”

He said he also worked two railroad derailments, the one in Buckholts and the one on FM 845, and “a bunch more” incidents.

He said he has seen his share of improvements in technology through his 30 years.

“Technology in law enforcement is an ever moving thing,” he said. “As soon as you get something installed and know how to use it something better is already out there. It is so much better now. There are better radios and the 911 system has improved so much.”

He said he remembers when 911 was first implemented and they would get calls for wrecks on I-35 in Waco. He said it is now down to a science.

“The hardest thing now is that we have so much technology and you have to work to get information from people on their phones,” he said. “You have to ask where are you, what road did you recently pass, is your car on its top or side. You have to be able to tell the first responders.”

Camp said he plans to travel in retirement, but will still be around to substitute when needed.