Behind The Badge: John Whitehead, 911 Center Operations Manager (Ret.)

Prior to joining the Utility team, John Whitehead began his career with the Jefferson County 911 Dispatch Center in Missouri quickly advancing through the ranks to the position of Operations Manager.

John joined the Utility, Inc. team as Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) in 2022. In his current role, he applies his over 25 years of knowledge in the public safety sector and his experience utilizing our life-saving technology to help serve the agencies he once worked alongside!

John sat with Utility’s Blog Editor to answer a few questions about his story:

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself John.

John Whitehead, current CRO at Utility, Inc.

A:  I have been in public safety my entire life and come from a PS (Public Safety) family. My grandfather and Uncle were Fire Chiefs, dads, cousins, uncles, etc., all volunteer or paid firefighters.

I started as a Jr. Firefighter when I was 13 but could not pursue a full-time career due to a knee injury. I took a few years off in my early 20s to start my own business but quickly realized public safety was my calling. I started at the 911 center when I was 25 and worked through the ranks until I was promoted to Operations Manager at Jefferson County 911 in Missouri.

After a few years, I left the 911 center and began working for a public safety vendor, and I have been on the vendor side for the last 20+ years. While it’s been several years since leaving the volunteer fire service, I still give back as an elected Board Member for the 911 center.

John Whitehead pictured with his family.

Q: What inspired you to choose the path of working in Public Safety?

A: I know some say, “It’s a calling!” but it’s how I was raised. I grew up watching my family members devote their lives to PS, so for me, it was an easy path to choose. Since that time, whether working for an agency or a PS vendor, it feels like I can give back and support an industry that truly makes a difference.

Q: What were some highlights from working in Public Safety?

A: I have a lot of great memories working in the public sector. As with all public safety personnel, the list of “war stories” is long, but as sappy as this is going to sound, my biggest highlight continues to be the ability to help others where needed. George Bush said, “Any definition of a successful life must include service to others.” Hopefully, my grandkids will look back on my life and say that, in some small way, I did just that.

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John Whitehead pictured during his early days at the 911 center in the 90’s

Q: What has been your biggest “lesson learned” that you’d like to share with other Public Safety leaders?

A: I was taught early in my career not to let distractions or “noise” inhibit my work. Both in the public sector and in the private sector, we are bombarded with issues. The key to moving forward is learning to remove or filter the noise and focus on what matters. There will always be a crisis, but how you manage that crisis will determine your overall success.

Q: What does Transparency mean to you?

A: Transparency is being open and honest in everything you do. Whether in a business meeting with an agency or just hanging out on the weekend, I want those interactions to be genuine. Trying to overlook an issue or hide the facts has never led to a successful outcome and, quite frankly, is a waste of time for everyone involved. In contrast, being open and transparent provides confidence and respect, knowing exactly where each party stands.

Q: How have you seen Technology aid in Public Safety?

A: With almost 40 years in public safety, I have watched technology advance from almost non-existent to where we are today. What used to take hours can now be done in minutes and quantified with the touch of a button. Whether in the fire service or law enforcement, technology should provide the transparency the public sector requires and provide our first responders with another tool to do their jobs.

John Whitehead pictured with the Utility team at the IACP 2022 conference in Dallas, Texas.

Q:  What advice would you give to an agency that is going through the process of selecting a Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS)?

A: Most agencies have acquired disparate solutions, creating large silos of digital information. While individually practical, this creates a challenge. How does an agency manage this data and use it effectively? This is where selecting a DEMS solution becomes critical. As agencies select their DEMS solution, it is vital to acquire an agnostic solution that can handle all digital evidence. This ability provides a seamless integration between current solutions and a foundation for future data collection.

Never ask an officer to do what Technology can do for them!

Learn how Utility, Inc.’s advanced Digital Evidence Capture, Analysis and Management solutions take situational awareness to a whole new level for First Responders.

For questions and more information on Utility, Inc. email

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