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Winnebago County 911 dispatcher hangs it up after 43 years on the job

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 3:58 PM CDT
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - A legend is hanging it up in Winnebago County.

For more than 40 years, police officers, sheriff’s deputies, firefighters, and other emergency responders heard his voice on their radios. Now, Winnebago County’s longest serving 911 dispatcher is retiring.

“The voice of wisdom, the voice of reason. Someone has a question about something, Dennis knows. He’s so generous with his knowledge, his experience and being willing to help the new people along with some of the seasoned veterans.” That’s how coworker Jen Davis describes Dennis Kallin. One of the original ten dispatchers to start what is now the Winnebago County 911 Center, Kallin is the last man standing.

It’s a job he wasn’t even supposed to work. According to Kallin, “I originally wanted to be a road deputy, but then one of the deputies I worked with got into a nice tussle with somebody and ended shooting the guy, and I said I don’t think I can do that.”

So Kallin turned to dispatch, and for the next four-plus decades he’s answered every call in the book.

“We had a kid, it was the day after Christmas in 1980, he called and he said, ‘I got a puppy and his name is Snoopy,’” says Kallin of one his most memorable calls.

He dealt with plenty of tough calls, too, but it was his professionalism on the other end of the call that was reassuring to those working the road.

“He was calm on emergency calls, and that would calm myself also, and the road deputies. Very knowledgeable. You couldn’t ask for a greater guy,” says Lt. Lori Seiler with the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office.

Kallin’s career spanned 43 years. That’s more than 10,000 days on the job, countless calls, and lots of technology upgrades. He says, “The young folk are coming in, they’ve got the computer skills. I learned how to type in high school and that was about it. So, they’re running rings around me, so I said it’s time to go.”

And it’s those coworkers and the people Kallin has worked and served with that he’ll miss the most as he begins his next calling.

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