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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 Floridas Southwest coast. Several people called 911 to report a woman screaming in a car, but dispatchers ignored the urgency. On todays anniversary, state lawmakers moved one step closer to requiring training for 911 operators.

A Senate committee room was packed, and hushed as Denise Amber Lees 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, Lees father, Richard Goff said. And I dont think thats 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, shed 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 Lees father and husband showed no joy.

It really doesnt matter what day it is, its still tough because my daughter, our daughter is not with us today to be here, Goff said. Were here because of her death and its tragic and it doesnt matter what day it is, it doesnt 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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