‘She is the one person who deserves our support’

Community rallies for 911 emergency dispatcher

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published March 4, 2015

 Bonnie Bowman poses with her grandchildren, Aniella and Luke Bowman. The Shelby Township Police Department will host a fundraiser for Bonnie, a longtime 911 emergency dispatcher, on March 25 at Coyote Joe’s.

Bonnie Bowman poses with her grandchildren, Aniella and Luke Bowman. The Shelby Township Police Department will host a fundraiser for Bonnie, a longtime 911 emergency dispatcher, on March 25 at Coyote Joe’s.

Photo courtesy of the Shelby Township Police Department

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP/UTICA — The good news is that doctors removed all of Bonnie Bowman’s cancer. The bad news is that chemotherapy drugs left her with neuropathy, a nerve condition that made her hands and feet weak, numb and painful, said her daughter, Brandi Bowman.

When the Shelby Township Police Department learned that Bonnie, who was diagnosed with cancer two years ago and has been on disability since, was struggling financially, they rallied. Lt. Scott Trumbo said thousands of people directly benefited from Bonnie’s services.

Bonnie worked as a dispatcher for the Shelby Township Police Department for 22 years and for the Utica Police Department for approximately 10 years before that.

Trumbo worked with Bonnie in Shelby Township for more than 20 years. He organized the fundraiser that will take place at 6 p.m. March 25 at Coyote Joe’s in Shelby Township.

“For all the positive things she has done for this community, we do not feel that she deserves to struggle,” Trumbo said. “We’ve relied on her to be a focal point in dispatch. She has a lot of skill and specialized training that we rely on.”

Even though her mother is on disability, Brandi said Bonnie still fields phone calls regarding dispatch questions from the Police Department.

“(The community support) has been phenomenal. It really makes us feel like what she’s been for the city has been noticed and they really care about her,” Brandi said. “I think she misses working and being able to go and just even get out of the house and help people for a couple of hours.”

Trumbo said it took strength of character and quick wits to do the job Bonnie did. The dispatch center in the Police Department also serves the township’s Fire Department.

“Dispatchers take calls under a variety of conditions. The calls themselves vary in degrees, whether they’re taking a call from someone panicking because their house is on fire, to giving CPR instructions, to dealing with jittery witnesses seeing a felony in progress,” Trumbo said.

He added that 911 dispatchers also are trained to provide resources for callers with nonemergencies who don’t know what other number to call.

Besides working as a dispatcher, Trumbo said Bonnie was always the first to lend a helping hand. She established the Police Department’s Christmas basket program for seniors; volunteered with the Shop with a Cop program, annual pig roast fundraiser and other charitable causes; and baked cakes for promotion and retirement ceremonies.

“She’s a very strong lady who’s vulnerable right now, and we want to let her know that she’s very well-supported and we appreciate her career and the time she’s donated to help us be successful,” Trumbo said. “She is the one person who deserves our support.”

Utica Police Chief David Faber said that although he was hired after Bonnie left the Utica Police Department, he knew her from community events.

“She’s a real sweetheart who would do anything for anybody, and she loves her job,” Faber said.

Shelby Township Fire Chief Jim Swinkowski praised Bonnie’s training abilities and said she was instrumental in establishing a backup dispatch center located in the Fire Department’s headquarters in the early 2000s, in case anything happened to the center at the Police Department.

“Our departments have worked really well together, and we’ve become like one big family over the years, through the good times and the bad,” Swinkowski said.

Advance tickets for the fundraiser cost $20. They will be $25 at the door. Coyote Joe’s is located at 49440 Ryan Road, south of 22 Mile Road. The night will include food catered by local businesses and raffles.

To purchase tickets or learn more information, call (586) 731-2121, ext. 3. Trumbo said the Police Department also is accepting donations and raffle items. Additionally, donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/bonniebowman.

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