One of the powerful moments during yesterday's emotional goodbye to Mobile Police Officer Justin Billa was the "End of Watch" call. This afternoon we sat down with the police dispatcher who made the call.
You could hear the emotion in Katherine Monteiro's voice as she gave the 26 second call over police radios. She says yesterday one of the hardest days of her long career.
It's a call that made the city stand still in reverence and honor for Officer Justin Billa. The official ending to a successful watch.
The voice heard on scanners and radios throughout Mobile County was that of Mobile Communications Officer Katherine Monteiro. She says police dispatchers are the lifelines. They like to call themselves the "first" first responders.
"It was probably one of the most emotional days I've had in my 25 years. An extreme honor like I said," said Monteiro. "Most of the time all they hear us is on the radio. Sometimes its a little bit harder than meeting the people face to face because we're sitting here and if we hear something happen over the radio and then silence. We have no idea what's going on."
With hundreds of calls a day Monteiro says they hear it all. But there's one call they pray they never hear, "officer down." Last Tuesday night they heard it. Monteiro says this completely changed the atmosphere around the dispatch center.
"There's phones ringing and people talking and dispatching on the radio. But it was just a subdued atmosphere where everybody was like did this really happen?" she said. "I just wanted to remain calm and give him the respect he deserved it."
Monteiro says the call was written by captain Douglas Parmenter, officer Billa's precinct commander.
"I think the hardest part was 'rest easy our brother, we've got it from here,' " Monteiro said. "I hope I don't ever have to do it again. I hope its the last one before I retire from the department, but if asked I will do it."
To Officer Billa, Monteiro says it was an honor.
"Once I said the final words, 'Amen,' that was it. That was final. That was his last end of watch. So yea it was emotional," she said.
To the rest of the men and women in blue.
"We got your back. We got your 6. Anytime you need us," added Monteiro.