SOUTH BEND — Pacific County Dispatch (PacCom) Director Tim Martindale is stepping down at the end of September after two years at the helm.
Over a 14-year career, he quickly climbed the ladder to director.
Landed a job by chance
Martindale isn’t an average career dispatcher. For him, interest in the job was initially sparked by desire to leave the soggy field of logging and noisy environment of working inside a mill. Those who meet him would have never have guessed his woodsy past, but those who know him realize a work ethic is intrinsic to his character.
“I started in December 2005,” Martindale said. “I grew up in Walla Walla and went to college for a couple years in Missouri and then lived in Hayden, Idaho. I ended up getting married while I was there to my wife Lisa, who is from Raymond, and moved over here in June of 2005.”
Martindale continued, “I worked in the woods for a while and worked in a mill and decided that wasn’t the job for me. I always tell people that I applied anywhere and everywhere that had a roof and indoor plumbing. I then went through the process of being hired at PacCom and honestly never thought I had a chance of getting this job. I was 21 years old and didn’t have any experience.”
Around the same time, Martindale’s father started a career in law enforcement at an agency in College Place. Martindale soon followed and successfully beat the odds when he was hired by PacCom to be a dispatcher.
“I worked for about a month before I realized that I wanted to make this a career,” he said. “I loved it. I get bored pretty easily with habitual things and 911 is something new every single day. You can have busy days when you don’t expect it and slow days when you expect busy days. You can have tons of traffic stops and then have no traffic stops. You run the gamut on what you’re getting phone calls for.”
Rising through the ranks
Just short of a year after being hired, Martindale was asked to become terminal agency coordinator (TAC), which entailed being the local liaison for the state access system. He continued in that role for several years. A year later, he was promoted to PacCom trainer for newly-hired dispatchers.
“In 2010 our supervisor stepped down so I applied for that position and got it,” he said. “One of my first meetings was with our previous director, Stephanie Fritts, and she asked me what I wanted to get out of the supervisor position. I told her ‘I want to be a director someday.’ She was awesome and mentored me. She allowed me to do things that ‘Joe Blow supervisor’ wouldn’t have been able to do because she wanted me to get the experience.”
Martindale worked as a supervisor for PacCom for six years and was appointed to director on Jan. 1, 2017, after Fritts stepped down. He has worked in that role for the past two and a half years.
One of his proudest achievements is the new dispatch center located in the basement of the Courthouse. Before its move, PacCom was located within the jail, in a small, claustrophobic room.
“When I took over as director, one of my main goals was to get the dispatch center moved,” he said. “The hard thing with that is you have to have a lot of buy off by a bunch of different stakeholders. You have three main entities there: your users, your sheriff, and the county commissioners that have bought off on that. That was difficult and everyone had their idea of what a dispatch center should look like.”
He worked with the entities to find middle ground and after months of back and forth got the green light for the project in December 2017. With the help of then-Sheriff Scott Johnson and a jail trustee, Martindale and a makeshift crew measured out the location and then enlisted the Pacific County Public Works Department’s help to develop dispatch center plans.
“In February 2018 we accepted a bid from JBK Builders,” Martindale said. “We had some grant money that went towards it and then also some of our 911 tax dollars we had saved specifically for this purpose. But the grant money had to be spent by the end of June. The building process usually takes a long time and had to start in March and be done by the beginning of June.”
He continued, “We were able to do a lot of work in very little time. It was a lot of coming down after hours. It took all of us to get it done. We helped out JBK as much a possible just to ensure we gave our staff the best facility. We moved in the end of June and here we are.”
Martindale has accepted a job in Bozeman, Montana to become the new 911 director for Gallatin County 911. He is hoping to make an immediate impact on the agency and said he will enjoy the perks of operating a large call center, such as dedicated information technology staff, along with a radio technician at his disposal.
“I saw a job open up over there and thought, heck, why not try,” he said. “Honestly, being from out of state, I figured that there was probably someone in-state that would take it. I threw my resume and application into the mix and was called for a Skype interview. About a week later I received an email saying ‘Hey, we would like to fly you down here and check things out’.”
Martindale continued, “I spent three days over there and went through their interview process and was able to meet everybody and tour the area. Around a week later, they offered me the job. … My wife was very gracious and said ‘If you like it, we’ll like it.’ So I accepted the job and just this last weekend took my family and in-laws over there to check things out.”
The moving process was anticipated to take some time, but his wife was recently offered a position, too, pushing the tempo to full speed. Martindale will be moving to Montana the second week of October in his travel trailer for a couple weeks before his wife and kids move. The couple submitted an offer on a house.
“It’s a bigger county and it’s a bigger agency and I am really excited about the resources over there and just trying something new,” he said. “My kids are excited to be moving to a bigger area with more resources for them.”