WEST DES MOINES – Friday is a day of remembrance as people across central Iowa honor two fallen metro police officers.
It’s been two years to the day since Urbandale Police Officer Justin Martin and Des Moines Police Sergeant Tony Beminio were fatally shot inside their squad cars.
Before any police officers were called the scene, it all started with the men and women behind the phone. 911 dispatchers say they’re the first ones on the scene. The dispatchers that took the call for the shooting of Officer Justin Martin were the first to know what was unfolding.
” I knew that it wasn’t a normal when the first phone call for shots fired came from an off duty officer,” said Westcom Supervisor Aubyn Giampolo.
She and her team were working that night. The call they had just gotten was unexpected.
“I took a call from a neighbor who said there was an officer that was shot. the first few calls were just shots fired and then when somebody personally saw that it was a police officer is when we knew that it was bad,” said Giampolo.
The shooter, Scott Greene had just murdered Officer Martin. Two miles away, Des Moines Police Sgt. Tony Beminio was ambushed in his patrol car.
“I had never met Sgt. Beminio, but it’s a horrible loss that you feel everyday,” said Giampolo.
The dispatchers were the unsung heroes that heard it all and took calls from people at the scene. Even though it seemed like life stopped in that moment, the calls kept coming.
“I actually came in 5 days after the ambush shooting of the two officers. I remember the first couple of days here, we were watching their funerals. It was a very emotional time to start here as well as a hard time for the dispatchers to open up to people that came in. I mean it was a loss of someone from their family,” said Westcom Dispatcher Allison Anderson.
For many, the feeling of helplessness kicked in.
“You second guess things and you wonder when the last time you talked to them, or what you could’ve done differently to change the outcome,” said Giampolo.
The supervisor understands there’s nothing she could’ve done differently, but it’s changed the way she does her job now.
“Every incident that could potentially have some responder safety aspects I may ask some extra questions that I wouldn’t have before. As minor as they may seem from the outside looking in, losing our officers is huge,” said Giampolo.
The community has come together and overcome tragedy. Years later, Officer Justin Martin and Sgt. Tony Beminio will never be forgotten.
“2016 will mark our lives forever. It will mark our dispatch center forever, the people who work here, the people who don’t work here anymore, will still deal with that forever,” said Giampolo.