OPCD #SHOWUP Spotlight
In 2019, OPCD began our #SHOWUP Spotlight Series, designed to share the stories of our Heroes Under the Headset who go above and beyond to serve the city of New Orleans.
We are happy to continue this tradition into 2020 by introducing you to
OPCD Dispatcher, Teri Clark.
Teri began her public safety career as an NOPD dispatcher more than 20 years ago.
“I applied at a job fair just hoping to find work,” said Teri. “Little did I know it would be an occupation I love and would turn into a lifelong career.”
Her admiration for the cultural melting pot that is the city of New Orleans, and the opportunity to make a difference in her community, are what kept her dedicated to the demanding job of an emergency dispatcher. After 17 years of serving New Orleans, though, Teri lovingly took on a new responsibility that required her to leave the city she called home and make her way to Dallas, Texas.
“One of the reasons I moved to Dallas was to be closer to my sister,” said Teri. “She was experiencing health problems. I needed and wanted to be there for her during that time.”
While she aided her sister in a new city, Teri found familiarity in her work. True to her calling, Teri took a position as a dispatcher for Highland Park’s Department of Public Safety and worked in the National Crime Information Center. The experience she held as a dispatcher, and the continued mission of helping those in need helped to keep Teri grounded as the years rolled by and she became more accustomed to life in Dallas.
Teri lived in Dallas for 3 years before deciding to move back to the vibrant city she missed so dearly. Once back in New Orleans, Teri returned to OPCD as a dispatcher, but found the position she had held for years and knew so well had changed dramatically while she was away.
“When I began the emergency communication specialist position,” said Teri, “there were new policies and procedures for me to learn, which were very different from when I last worked in New Orleans. It’s definitely strange to have worked in public safety for years and suddenly feel like a rookie all over again.” The assistance of coworkers and friends on the job helped Teri quickly catch up and understand the newly ever-changing public safety industry.
Teri says her drive to succeed in this business is tied to her desire to provide for those she loves most, her family.
In November 2019, Teri married her high-school sweetheart, Ronnell Smith, and together they care for her son, Neil, and daughter, Tenia. Teri is also an involved and dedicated grandmother to her grandson, Brandon.
“I genuinely love spending time with my family,” said Teri, “especially when it comes to traveling. In June, I’m going to Washington D.C. with my daughter. We’re also planning a trip to New York soon.”
Teri’s love of family and helping others in their time of crisis is a beautiful, selfless trait that we appreciate, and two of the many reasons we appreciate her being a part of the OPCD Team.