Widower: phone carriers’ plan for locating 911 calls not enough

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ENGLEWOOD, Fla. – Imagine calling 911 for help, but first responders can’t find you. It’s a scary reality; one that ended with a North Port mom, Denise Amber Lee, dead.

Cell phone carriers have now pitched a plan, they say, will track you quickly and more accurately. Lee’s husband, however, says the plan doesn’t do enough to save lives.

“Google and Siri can find you within a second up to a couple feet, but 911 isn’t always able to find you accurately,” Nathan Lee said.

For Lee, this fight is personal. Convicted murderer, Michael King, abducted Lee’s wife, Denise, in 2008. King raped and killed her. Denise was able to call 911 from the back of King’s car using his cell phone, but dispatch couldn’t locate her.

“It’s extremely important for 911 centers to be able to get an accurate location as you’re moving down the street, especially in Denise’s case,” said Lee.

The FCC came up with a plan that would require phone carriers to locate an indoor emergency cell phone call within 164 feet of the person’s actual location 67 percent of the time. The carriers proposed a counter plan that doesn’t specifically improve locating 911 calls from cell phones inside a building.

While companies involved in the counter deal aren’t opposed, 95 percent of the 300 public safety officials surveyed say they don’t like the phone companies’ plan. WINK News spoke with area communication specialists who agree; better locators for cell phones would make response times quicker. However, it would also cost more money to install the technology.

“We want people to make decisions based on what’s best for everyone,” said Lee, “but when it comes down to money, that doesn’t work, it doesn’t happen.”

A petition Lee started on Change.org October 17, 2014 has 127,000 signatures.

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