Finance and Operations

Meet the Expert: Twana Wright


If you’ve ever called 911, then you’ve talked to a telecommunicator, also known as a communications specialist or 911 dispatcher. These individuals are the true first responders, as they answer calls for service in response to incidents in the community.

Clemson University’s dispatch center is led by the Clemson University Police Department’s Communications and Records Manager Twana Wright. We sat down with Twana to learn more about the vital role that her team plays in public safety.

What is your role with CUPD?

I am the Communications and Records Manager for CUPD. That means I manage the police records and the 911 center. That involves a lot of training, interacting with staff, writing policy, updating and revising reports, and communicating with others in the industry about the latest and greatest technology in the industry. I make sure that our team is prepared for emergencies and that we review policies and procedures together. I also manage staffing for our team and hire people to work for us.

CUPD Communications and Records Manager Twana Wright

What do communications specialists/911 dispatchers do?

Our dispatchers answer all emergency and non-emergency calls. From that, we obtain pertinent information from the caller to determine the appropriate response and then dispatch police, fire or EMS to that response.

In addition to that, as being part of the University, we do several other things. We monitor the fire alarm system, dispatch maintenance requests for housing and facilities, dispatch parking services to parking complaints and accept tow fines for parking after hours. We monitor area agencies’ radios for mutual aid assistance requests if that were to happen. We collect lost and found items, activate weather sirens, whether in response to lightning or a tornado, and send any type of emergency notification to the campus. We monitor information systems for things like stolen items, wanted individuals and missing persons. We also provide information about the campus to anyone who comes to CUPD.

How might students interact with a communications specialist?

At Clemson University, there are four ways that students would interact with us apart from coming into CUPD.

  1. Dialing 911
  2. Calling the CUPD non-emergency line at 864-656-2222
  3. Emailing
  4. Using the Text CU Dispatch feature in the Rave Guardian app

If someone calls 911, what information should they be prepared to provide?

The first thing we are going to want to know is what is the incident? What’s happening? Where did it occur? When did it occur? Is the caller safe? Are there any weapons involved? The caller’s name and phone number and any additional information that they think is pertinent to the incident.

For those interested in becoming a communications specialist, what is important for them to know?

The thing that we look for in a dispatcher is the ability to remain calm under pressure. You need to have empathy, pay close attention to detail and have good customer service skills. If you don’t have that customer service skill, it’s really tough to relate to the public. You need to have good communication skills and be able to multi-task. You may not start out multi-tasking, but you will learn over time. You also have to listen to the caller and make sure you understand exactly what is being said, and you have to have patience. And ultimately letting the person on the other end of the line know that help is on the way.

That’s my idea of what a dispatcher should be. If we don’t do these things, we are not being a 911 dispatcher, and we have failed the person on the other end. Because when they call us, they have hope that we are going to answer and be able to help them efficiently.

Visit the CUPD website to learn more.