May 2003

Public Safety
Budget Accord

From the NYS Assembly • Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Robert K. Sweeney, Chair, Local Governments Committee
RoAnn Destito, Chair, Governmental Operations Committee • Assemblyman David Koon
What the experts are saying...

"If an enhanced 911 system had been in place, my son may have had a fighting chance. I am grateful for the initiative the Assembly has taken on behalf of all New Yorkers to ensure the health and safety of all families."

- Virginia Badillo, mother of one of the Long Island Sound drowning victims

"The fact that this system is not in place is heartbreaking. Those of us who believe in a representative system of justice believe that elected officials, as our advocates, will use all their wisdom to make difficult choices in the public arena."

- Barbara Dufty, mother of one of the Long Island Sound drowning victims

"Americans put their trust and faith in three numbers, Nine-one-one. The communication technology we have now has evolved very quickly, but our state and local response centers are nowhere near (prepared for) the job we’re asking them to do."

- U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton

"With so many emergency calls now originating from cell phones, the upgrade – even at $1 million or more – is certainly justifiable."

- Mark Hare, Columnist, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle


Legislature makes the right choice –
Budget agreement provides for lifesaving wireless 911 improvements

The Legislature’s budget provides grants to help localities make lifesaving improvements to local 911 systems. The funding will allow eligible local emergency dispatch centers to install enhanced 911 technology – enabling emergency dispatchers to pinpoint calls from wireless phones.

Ensuring protection for all 911 callers

Enhanced 911 technology can save lives. The Legislature’s budget ensures wireless emergency callers will have the same safeguards afforded landline callers, who can be quickly located in the event of an emergency.

The Legislature’s budget dedicates a portion of the revenue from an existing surcharge on wireless phones to provide grants to help localities upgrade wireless 911 systems. The initiative reflects legislation passed by the Assembly earlier this year to end delays in 911 enhancements by providing funding directly to local emergency dispatch centers.

Making sure taxpayer money goes to the right place

The need for the initiative was highlighted in January when four teenage boys drowned in Long Island Sound after one of them desperately tried to describe the location of their sinking boat to 911 dispatchers, who lacked the E-911 technology that may have helped save them.

Sadly, this tragedy may have been avoidable. Since 1991, New York wireless phone users have paid more than $200 million in surcharges that were enacted specifically to establish a statewide 911 emergency telephone communications system. However, a 2002 audit of the E-911 fund by the state comptroller criticized the use of the fund, citing spending on expenses like dry cleaning, travel and lawn mowing.

We need to do everything we can to keep our families safe – and that means seeing to it that this money goes to enhancing New York’s 911 systems. The Legislature’s budget delivers on this dire need.

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