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Denise Amber Lee Act Clears Committee

February 16th, 2010 by Mike Vasilinda

9-1-1 Emergency operators will have to undergo increased training under legislation approved by a State House Committee this morning in Tallahassee. The legislation was inspired by the preventable death, as Mike Vasilinda tells us, 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 kidnappers cell phone to call 911.

A second 9-1-1 call came from a motorist who saw Denise stressed 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.

Denises 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.

I want to be assured that there is no cost, that it is financially neutral, Rep. Bill Proctor (R-St. Augustine) said.

Sponsors say what is not acceptable is calling 9-1-1 and getting a different response, depending on what part of the state youre calling from.

15 other states already have similar laws on the books.

Florida is certainly lagging behind in that regard, Richard Pinsky with the Emergency Operators Association.

And there were more tears when the bill passed.

This is about saving future lives and we just dont want this to happen to anybody else, Peggy Lee, Denise Amber Lees mother-in-law said.

When you hear about the costs, you know, we all know what the cost is, its a lost life, Mark Lee said.

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.

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