9-1-1 Emergency operators will have to undergo increased training under legislation approved by a State House Committee Tuesday morning in Tallahassee. The legislation was inspired by the preventable death of Denise Amber Lee, a Sarasota woman kidnapped and murdered in 2008.
The young mother was abducted in January 2008. Surprisingly she was able to use her kidnapper’s cell phone to call 911. A second 9-1-1 call came from a motorist who saw Denise stretched out in the back of a car.
The hitch came when the calls were not relayed to police by an untrained operator. By some accounts, the kidnapper drove past at least three police cars who could have saved Denise.
Denise’s mother-in-law teared as a House committee debated a bill to require training. Police and sheriffs question the cost of additional training. So do some lawmakers like Representative Bill Proctor of St. Augustine..
“I want to be assured that there is no cost, that it is financially neutral.”
Sponsors say what is not acceptable is calling 9-1-1 and getting a different response, depending on what part of the state you’re calling from.
15 other states already have similar laws on the books and Richard Pinsky of the Emergency Operators Association that won’t cut it..
“Florida is certainly lagging behind in that regard.”
And there were more tears when the bill passed, tears from Peggy Lee, Denise’s mother in law.
“This is about saving future lives and we just don’t want this to happen to anybody else.”
Mark Lee, her father in law, says there is a cost.
“When you hear about the costs, you know, we all know what the cost is, it’s a lost life.”
Michael King has been sentenced to death in the case. A Senate Committee hears similar legislation Thursday, but in tight budget times, passage is not a sure thing.