Work is our home away from home. Dispatch and Records Supervisor, Reannon Cook, laughs about spending more hours at the police department than her own house the past 15 years. Her loyalty to the agency is due to working with those she calls friends and family. Reannon “has grown up” with several members of the department. She remembers when the Chief started as a patrol officer and what it was like to be brand new in a dispatch role.
Reannon was the solo dispatcher on November 4, 2015. The phone lines were flooded with frantic callers from UC Merced reporting a man was stabbing people on campus. Reannon remained calmed, dispatched the officers, called for ambulances, and alerted the community about the threat. She was impressed how surrounding agencies automatically sent their own officers and deputies to assist our students during the tragedy.
Countless memorable calls stand out to Reannon. She convinced a suicidal caller not to jump off of a building on campus. Reannon explained, “I talked to the caller about hope. I wanted them to have hope about the bigger picture in life. My job was to restore any sense of hope. They got off of the roof.”
Reannon was drawn to a career of service because of struggles she faced as a child. She is a childhood sexual assault survivor. Reannon became very angry after the abuse. She skipped school and exhibited aggressive behavior. Her message to staff and faculty is students exhibiting negative behavior most likely have trauma in their life. She encourages others not to judge or label our students who find themselves in trouble criminally or in student conduct.
Her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when Reannon was eleven. As her mother’s health declined, Reannon was given a choice on where to live and attend school. From 4th-11th grade she lived in an orphanage school with 100 other children.
Residing in an orphanage was not easy. She missed her mother and little brother. Reannon’s father was in prison most of her childhood. She had to visit him on Christmas Day in a prison. Moving to the orphanage “saved” her from taking the wrong path. Reannon excelled in academics. She is grateful for being exposed to music, piano, and was able to sing in the choir on a nationwide choir platform.
Reannon moved back into her mother’s home for her Senior year of high school. Her mom was in a wheel chair and could only move her chin and talk. She was unable to move any other part of her body. Reannon cared for her until she went to Heaven. It was very traumatic to watch her mom’s physical health deteriorate as her mind remained healthy. Her heart hurts for others with declining health and for their caretakers.
Many issues impacting our students have taught her to look at multiple perspectives at once. She witnessed a former DACA CSO live in fear of not being able to finish their education and of being deported to a country they had never even visited. Reannon demonstrates compassion and empathy to those around her. Watching others be impacted in a very personal way by the media has changed the way she looks at global issues.
As an introvert, Reannon finds herself in situations at work requiring her to push past the comfort zone. She has a fear of being perceived as weak or unknowledgeable if she doesn’t know something well. Reannon wants the campus community to know it is okay to ask for help because nobody does everything perfect. She challenges herself not to put up walls prohibiting her to connect with others. Her natural inclination is to decline invitations to new things because she will not have to risk rejection. Although she longs for connection to others, she can become frozen in social situations. Her advice is to push through the anxiety, ignore the voice in your head saying not to attend an event, and put yourself out there. UC Merced offers so many opportunities for students to explore new things. She would tell her younger self to go for it!