You may not know the name Lynn Stelley, but if you live in Matthews you've benefited from her work. Lynn is one of the many behind-the-scenes heroes of the Matthews Police Department. Though she doesn’t drive a patrol car, in her role as Records & Communications Manager she reports directly to the Chief to ensure the administrative side of the department is running smoothly. Her role is vital for both general operations and the safety of every officer serving Matthews.
Originally from Louisiana, Lynn was in the U.S. Air Force (4.5 years) and was a flight attendant for American Trans Air (13 years). Her husband’s job brought them to Mint Hill where she worked at Mint Hill Middle School until the School Resource Officer encouraged her to apply at the Matthews Police Department. Her varied experience taught her to manage many tasks at once, and she credits her military family for instilling the self-discipline to work in law enforcement. Now in her eighth year with the Matthews Police, she first worked with Chief Rob Hunter and now with Chief Clark Pennington. “They have different styles,” she notes, while giving “high praise for both [men].”
As Records & Communications Manager, Lynn oversees a staff of two Record Keepers, the dispatchers, and has something of a role in the department's finance. Things now are in a much more manageable system than when she started. Back then officers’ reports were handwritten, sometimes with diagrams of scenes hand drawn on the back of an incident report. The clerks would then enter the reports into the records. Now, with software and automated systems, the officers can do it themselves.
Lynn is clearly happy in her office, giving instructions with the cheerful, unfaltering disposition essential for proper management. There’s a palpable warmth to her approach as she moves through the daily routine. When asked about the telecommunications position, Lynn openly admits it’s a tough role to fill. A demanding job with long hours that can be emotionally draining, which is why there’s a nationwide shortage of dispatchers. She oversees two supervisors and has capacity for 12 dispatchers (currently nine positions are filled). She’s proud of the staff for going beyond the minimum Department of Justice Telecommunications Standards and fulfilling the Sheriff’s Training Standards. Lynn has also made some changes in the dispatch room: upgraded work areas and “a little bit of paint” have dramatically improved morale.
Lynn gives a quick tour of the department on the way to check in with the dispatchers. She appreciates the tight-knit cooperation of the department, "It's like a big family, and it has to be that way." The team atmosphere makes stressful situations much less so. She knows a job where emergencies happen every day can take a mental toll on her employees, expressing concern and demonstrating she has the knowledge to be genuinely supportive of them.
She worries about the officers as they leave on patrol, pausing before reflecting. She was in the call center when the Butler shooting happened. “It was amazing how everyone fell into their roles. There wasn’t time for anything, just to do our jobs. I don’t think we thought about it until after it was all over.”
With the pressure of a job in law enforcement, Lynn leaves work at work. It’s a necessary skill she learned from her military father. She appreciates he did the same for her as she grew up. Lynn talks as excitedly about her kids, her four grandchildren (including eighteen-month-old twins), and Bruno, her German shepherd mutt.
Bruno, it turns out, is the key for Lynn’s calm. A long walk with a happy dog is exactly what she needs to unwind from a full day's work keeping Matthews safe.