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Covington-Newton 911 hires new director
Trudy Henry
Trudy Henry, Covington-Newton 911 director, poses for a portrait outside the 911 center in Covington on June 13, 2019. Henry took over the director position in June 2019 after the former director, Mike Smith, retired to take a state job. - photo by File Photo

COVINGTON, Ga. -  A two-decade-long goal has finally been accomplished for Trudy Henry as she begins a new journey as director of the Covington-Newton 911 Center.

Henry sits at her desk, behind her two-screened computer, as she reminisces about her past and the years she spent helping her fellow neighbors within the Newton County community. Even though life at the 911 center has not been easy, her occasional laughter indicates that the years spent there were worth it.

Henry has called Covington her home since she was 6 years old.

After graduating high school, Henry moved out of Covington when she attended Georgia Southern University. She soon realized that being away from her home was not what she wanted in life, and before even a year passed by, she packed up her bags and moved back to Covington where she planted her roots.

Upon returning home, Henry knew she needed a job, and her mother told her about a job opening at the 911 center as a dispatcher. Not only did she apply for the dispatcher position, but she also applied for a position at animal control, hoping she would get one of the two positions.

“Luckily, I got the 911 position,” she said with a slight laugh. “I did not want to work in animal control.”

It was not the easiest job working as a dispatcher, especially when Henry took calls from people she knew. As a dispatcher, one of the hardest calls she took was from a guy she went to school with that wanted to commit suicide. The hardest part, for her, was not receiving closure after getting such calls.

“Some people just can’t do it,” she said. “Other people are just tired of doing it, and other people are hardcore and stay around.”

It did not take a long time for Henry to give herself a long term goal within the 911 center. She knew early on what she wanted, and she told herself “I’ll be the director one day.”

Henry began working towards her goal by returning to school to earn her degree. She earned a bachelor’s in criminal justice at Mercer University, and she went on to earn her master’s degree at Troy University.

Henry was promoted to a supervisor position about two years into her dispatch career, and in 2003, she was promoted to operations manager. As an operations manager, Henry worked under Mike Smith, former 911 director, who taught her about being proactive in the department.

“He was always looking for ways to improve the 911 center,” she said.

Moving forward, Henry wants to remain proactive within the department. Her future plans are to improve morale, and she wants her department to become fully staffed and stay fully staffed.