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911 Training

April 17th, 2008 by Mike Vasilinda

3 months ago today, Amber Denise Lee was kidnaped raped and murdered in Charlotte County on Florida’s Southwest coast.  Several people called 911 to report a woman screaming in a car, but dispatchers ignored the urgency. On today’s anniversary, state lawmakers moved one step closer to requiring training for 911 operators.

A Senate committee room was packed, and hushed as Denise Amber Lee’s father told lawmakers about an apparent series of keystone cop like occurrences that meant the difference between life and death for his daughter.

“And if you listen to the 911 call, you can hear them screaming at each other, laughing in th background, and shouting,” Lee’s father, Richard Goff said. “And I don’t think that’s very appropriate. But as of that day, the deputy was sitting, waiting in that car while the suspect drove right by him. If he had had that call answered correctly and dispatched correctly, she’d be alive with us today.”

But the hearing pointed to bigger problem and it came from  the Association of 911 Operators.

“We have one of the highest turnover rates of anyone in the country,” Lobyist Richard Pinsky said.

Despite questions about the voluntary nature of the certification, costs, and turnover, the Senate Committee vote was unanimous. Outside Amber Lee’s father and husband showed no joy.

“It really doesn’t matter what day it is, it’s still tough because my daughter, our daughter is not with us today to be here,” Goff said. “We’re here because of her death and it’s tragic and it doesn’t matter what day it is, it doesn’t make it any better.”

The family says it will be at the Capitol every opportunity to see the legislation through, hoping a lot of good comes from their tragedy.

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