Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Unbelievable! I think I'm going to be sick. Read on...

Definitely check out the video on the story. Incredible. It's an all too familiar story. These stories just have to stop. Please, write your legislations and demand mandatory certification for 9-1-1 call takers.


Aurora reprimands 911 dispatcher for call

Written by: Brian Maass
July 27, 2009

The city of Aurora has given a written reprimand to a 911 dispatcher involved in a botched call three months ago. Due to systems failures and human error, dispatcher Jeanette Price sent rescuers miles out of their way as they tried to help an elderly woman who was short of breath.

A CBS4 investigation has learned it was the second such discipline for Price for a mishandled 911 call.

Sandra Lowman, 64, died and the city of Aurora has conceded that dispatching errors may have tripled the response time.

"I think that's way off," said Robert Lowman, the woman's son, when he learned of the mild discipline. "I'm not asking for her to lose her job, but she doesn't need to be doing that job. These are life-and-death things and if she can't do that job well and perform, she shouldn't have it. For me and my family and those in my community, we deserve better."

Price did not return multiple calls from CBS4, nor did she respond to a letter sent to her home address.

The city of Aurora gave Price the same discipline -- a written reprimand -- following a 2001 call to 911 in which she argued with callers about the need for a police response.

On July 20, 2001, Price fielded a 911 call from a man reporting an apparent abduction at an Aurora strip mall. He said a man leaped into a woman's car and appeared to be carjacking her.

The caller said, "She took off squealing, I don't think she knows him," as he described the incident.

"If they come back just give us a call and let us know, okay?" responded Price.

"Would you like the car description?" asked the caller.

Price responded, "They're not fighting, they're not yelling, they're nothing."

"He jumped through her window," the caller said.

"So they may have just been playing around," Price responded.

A few minutes later, the victim's mother called in about the same incident and Price answered.

"And how do you know she was carjacked?" Price challenged the caller. "She was not fighting, screaming, did not ask for help; nothing."

The mother told Price the victim's boyfriend had been stalking her. Price's response: "A lot of times they end up making back up together, they end up making up."

Price ultimately categorized the call as non-emergency. Officers on the low priority call arrived 35 minutes later. By then Le Thu Nguyen and her abductor were long gone.

The next day, Nguyen was found dead. Her boyfriend, Omar Green, was convicted of her strangulation murder. Nguyen's family sued Aurora and Jeanette Price over the handling of the 911 call and agreed to a $150,000 out-of-court settlement with the city.

Aurora City Attorney Charlie Richardson defended the latest written reprimand for Price saying it was appropriate discipline given all the facts surrounding the Sandra Lowman case. Richardson explained it was appropriate partly because Price had successfully handled "thousands" of 911 calls since the 2001 incident.

But Jason Jordan, an attorney representing the Lowman family, expressed surprise that Price has received comparatively mild discipline for such serious incidents.

"It is our position that incident alone (2001) should have resulted in her losing her position," Jordan said.

Jordan called it "deplorable" that Price received only a written rebuke for the May incident.

CBS4 has also uncovered a strange call Price made to 911 from her own home. Watch the video clip to hear part of the more than 10 minute long conversation with Arapahoe County dispatchers.

Saved for posterity "Letters to the Editor"


Not willing to sacrifice safety


I hope Commissioner Duffy's colleagues join her in her support of Sheriff Cameron's budget.
The safety of our community and every family in it is at risk if further cuts are made. To reduce the budget further will mean layoffs. That, in turn, will mean increased response times.

Please ask yourself, "How long am I willing to wait for a deputy when I call 911?" Then ask, "Am I willing to take the risk that he or she might get there too late?"

I am asking everyone in Charlotte County to contact commissioners and deliver this message: We are willing to sacrifice many services due to the county's budget problems, but our safety is not one of them.

Jeff Jubenville

Port Charlotte


Why are Charlotte costs so high?


Having lived in Charlotte County for about 15 years, I have watched the typical government costs per voter rise by absurd annual rates with the new benefits provided bearing little relationship to same.

The Sheriff's Office is a blazing example of this, with new facilities and new vehicles of which four or more can show up at a fender bender. Meanwhile, sheriff's vehicles are observed watching red light runners,

speeders and no signal lane changers without any action. These visible situations are hopefully offset by more effective efforts elsewhere.

The voter outrage has dwindled to only an occasional outburst or some success at the polls in electing new players. This apathy is a sad reflection on all of us and something I hope the current commissioners and sheriff have the guts to change. Throw in the current economic

situation and one wonders how the current commissioners and sheriff can look into a mirror and be proud of their inaction.

As to the current sheriff's budget situation, using the sheriff's numbers and the current populations for Charlotte, Sarasota and Lee counties, the cost per capita for the sheriff's budget are: Charlotte, $390 per capita; Sarasota, $232 per capita; Lee, $264 per capita.

It appears that considerable fat exists in county government, especially within the Sheriff's Department. Once again, this voter is asking why.

Mike Reinhard

Port Charlotte

My thoughts: Let's see.. Charlotte spends $390 per capita, while Sarasota spends $232 per capita. Yet! Sarasota County handled four of the 9-1-1 calls regarding Denise superbly, while Charlotte County only handled one and well.... we all know by now what happened to Denise. In any case, it boggles the mind. And Mr. or Deputy Jubenville (I seem to remember seeing his name in the IA and he works for the CCSO, my bad if I'm wrong but I don't think I am) has the audacity to bring up 9-1-1 in his letter. I don't normally cuss all I can say is WTF?

Also in the news this past week was Sheriff Cameron helping a hapless boat while out boating himself. And he arrested two robbers while off duty when they ran a stop sign. What a guy! All he needs now is an "S" on his chest. I would love to see the Sun write a story on just how much this cast of characters gets paid. How much vacation time they get and any other perks they receive. Because the night Denise died they couldn't afford to pay an operator over time to watch the BOLO machine. Yet I hear and would love to have it verified that Bill Cameron is the highest paid Charlotte County employee. Hate to sound bitter but..... something stinks.

Again, all my opinions are my own and just a release of anger and frustration I feel. But Charlotte County really does need to wake up.

The Suns editorial today:


Growth in sheriff budget must stop

OUR POSITION: Sheriff's Office spending must be reined in.

Public safety is a basic function of local government. The men and women who protect and serve the residents of Charlotte County deserve and have our respect and admiration for the difficult and often dangerous work they do. But as work continues on next year's budget, it is clear to us that the growth of the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office budget has to stop and the department's spending aligned with fiscal realities.

Over the past few years, taxpayers have revolted against rising local government spending. Budget cuts forced by legislative fiat and exacerbated by revenue losses due to the collapse of the housing market have taken a significant toll on county government. This year alone, the commission slashed $50 million in operational costs and capital projects from the county budget.

Yet the sheriff's office budget since 2004 has risen 48.5 percent, from $40.5 million to $60 million. Over the same period, the population of the county has actually fallen, from about 157,000 to about 150,000.

The sheriff's budget is made up of three elements, including law enforcement, courts and corrections. The corrections element is actually a county function that the commission contracts out to the sheriff. The construction of a new county jail and its current expansion have contributed to the growth of the sheriff's budget, so for the purposes of this analysis, we have backed out jail operational costs.

The result? The sheriff's office budget has increased by a higher percentage. From 2004 to 2008, it has ballooned by 53 percent, or $15.1 million, from $28.5 million to $43.6 million.

Earlier this month, Sheriff Bill Cameron offered to trim 2 percent from his budget in response to a request from the commission to find 15 percent in cuts. Recently the commission voted 3-2 to reject that $58.6 million proposed budget. It remains to be seen whether the stalemate will be settled here or in Tallahassee, where Cameron could appeal to the governor if the commission holds its ground.

The rise in the budget is attributable to two initiatives undertaken by Cameron's predecessor, John Davenport, and continued upon Cameron's election in 2008: pay raises and hiring. We have supported the effort to bring officer pay in line with other area departments, so we will focus on the latter issue. Both Davenport and Cameron have been seeking a ratio of 2 officers per 1,000 residents. The current ratio is 1.8 officers per 1,000 residents.

The figure is arbitrary and obviously costly. Along Florida's Gulf Coast, only Collier County surpasses the ratio, while counties like Hillsborough (1.5), Pasco (1.3) and Sarasota (1.6) fall well short. According to the Department of Justice, the average ratio for areas with populations between 100,000 and 250,000 is 1.9.

The local ratio distorts reality because it includes the population for the entire county, but excludes the 37 police officers in Punta Gorda, where the sheriff's office performs only limited law enforcement duties.

We take public safety very seriously and have no doubt Sheriff Cameron is pursuing policies he believes best achieves our common goal. But the commission is correct to finally tighten the reins on spending in the sheriff's office and we encourage the board to stand firm.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

"Chaos Theory" from Urgent Communications

In light of DateLine airing again tonight, I thought I'd post this to update persons new to the case on what the foundation is doing and what we're fighting for. We so hope and pray such errors are minimized and that more people don't have to die needlessly. Denise's tragedy is not an isolated incident. Problems happen more than most people know. We can improve this folks! And people truly are out there trying but we need your help!

Jul 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Glenn Bischoff

Protocols and intuitive managers are key to reducing pressure in 911 centers.

Nathan Lee returned to his Florida home in the middle of the afternoon on Jan. 17, 2008. When he arrived, he found his two sons — a 2-year-old and a 6-month-old — together in the younger boy's crib. His wife and the boys' mother, Denise Amber Lee, was nowhere to be found.

She was found two days later in a shallow grave after being brutally raped. In the first frenetic hours after her abduction, mistakes allegedly were made by a 911 call-taker and dispatchers that hampered the search effort. Today, her family and friends are wondering why no national training and certification program exists for 911 telecommunicators, which they believe would help professionals in the sector better keep their wits in an intrinsically high-stress environment that becomes a crucible when things hit the fan.

The first 911 call on the day of Denise Lee's abduction was placed by Nathan Lee. The 911 center that took that call and two others promptly issued BOLO ("Be On the LookOut for") signals that allegedly were missed by the 911 center in an adjacent county. At some point during the ordeal, the assailant drove through that county with Denise Lee in tow.

Later in the afternoon, a witness called 911 to report that a child in the back seat of a green Camaro was pounding on the window and screaming hysterically. The "child" was Denise Lee, according to Peggy Lee, the victim's mother in law. According to Lee's family, that call was received by the same 911 center that allegedly missed the BOLOs issued after Nathan Lee's 911 calls. Somehow, the family alleges, no BOLO ever was issued for the call from the eyewitness nor were police cruisers dispatched, even though the eyewitness provided cross streets at several junctures until the car carrying Denise Lee peeled off onto another road.

Peggy Lee today serves as the community relations director for the Denise Amber Lee Foundation, which is lobbying for training and procedural reforms in the 911 sector. She has heard the recording from the eyewitness call and said the call-taker became flustered during the nine minutes she was on the line with the eyewitness. "That call-taker didn't know what to do — you could hear the chaos," she said.

Denise Lee's father works in that county as a police detective. He said in an interview on a network-television newsmagazine that a fellow officer told him that the officer was certain the vehicle drove "right by him" but did not pursue, because "he never received the information."

Local media reported that the county's sheriff defended the performance of the 911 center's call-takers and dispatchers that night but acknowledged that mistakes were made. Reportedly, two dispatchers were suspended as a result of this incident.

During the ordeal, Denise Lee somehow managed to get her hands on the assailant's wireless phone without him knowing and placed her own 911 call. She cleverly gave the call-taker vital information, such as the type of car, by speaking in a way that made her assailant think she was talking to him. After seven minutes the assailant caught on and the call ended. "That call was handled superbly," Peggy Lee said.

However, Denise Lee's location couldn't be identified by the 911 system because she used a pre-paid wireless phone to place the call.

The television newsmagazine posed this question: Could Denise Lee have been saved if the call-taker and dispatchers had kept their cool? It's a question that haunts her family.

Consequently, the Denise Amber Lee Foundation is lobbying for the creation of a national certification program for 911 call-takers and dispatchers. "We want to ensure that no other family has to endure the pure hell our family has experienced," said Nathan Lee during last month's National Emergency Number Association (NENA) conference in Fort Worth, Texas.

Craig Whittington, NENA's newly elected president, who spent six years on the organization's educational committee before joining its executive board in 2007, is in favor of such a program. "You have to be certified to operate a tanning booth, but for 911 — the most critical link in emergency response — there is no certification," Whittington said.

While a good idea, a national program likely would be difficult to create and maintain, said Rick Jones, NENA's director of operations. Funding would be at the heart of that difficulty. "When you address the need for training and certification, you indeed are going to escalate their costs," he said.

Jones said that 911 call centers ideally would allocate 5% of their operating budgets for training but acknowledged that such a goal would be unrealistic for many, if not most, centers in the current economic environment. "Their training has been cut, and their practice time has been reduced for various reasons, [but] basically economic," Jones said. "That starts to have a negative effect."

The negative effect is three-fold. Rigorous ongoing training, core-competency standards and proficiency tests would increase the likelihood that call-takers and dispatchers act properly and — perhaps more important — instinctively. This, in turn, would make them more competent and confident, leading to reduced stress. And the less stressed that call-takers and dispatchers are, the le
ss likely they are to lose their composure and make mistakes at crucial moments.

But such training, standards and testing largely are absent in the 911 world, a fact that Gordon Graham, the keynote speaker at NENA's conference, noted. Graham, a former California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer turned litigator and educator specializing in risk management, said, "Once you are hired, you will never have to take another test if you don't want to be promoted. The public deserves better."

To illustrate the point, Graham spoke of US Airways Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who landed his airplane in New York City's Hudson River in January after several birds flew into the craft's engines, rendering them inoperable. According to Graham, Sullenberger said in an interview shortly after his heroic actions saved the lives of everyone aboard Flight 1549 that he tried, throughout his flying career, to make small deposits each day into his memory bank, knowing that one day he would "have to make a massive withdrawal."

It was a sound strategy, Graham said, because doing so enabled Sullenberger to make instantaneous, life-and-death decisions on that fateful day. It's a lesson especially adaptable to the public-safety sector, whose personnel make such decisions on a daily basis.

"You will run into the unthinkable event someday, and you will have to make instantaneous decisions," Graham said. "Whether you are prepared to do so is up to you."

To prepare, Jones recommended that 911 emergency call centers at least implement protocols that every telecommunicator follows for every call the center receives. He suggested that centers adopt the protocols already established by the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) Institute or PowerPhone (a provider of crisis communications training), and resist the temptation to create their own.

"That's dangerous, because a local agency doesn't have the expertise," said Jones, who further cautioned that centers also should resist altering the national protocols, because "sometimes they over-modify them."

Emergency call center managers also can play an important role in reducing the stress encountered by 911 call-takers and dispatchers, according to Steve Wisely, director of APCO's Communications Center and 911 services department. He said managers should be trained to have a calming effect on telecommunicators. "It's important that the supervisory leadership has training that will allow them to act in a calm manner, even when high-profile incidents are underway," Wisely said. "The supervisors set the tone for the workers that are reporting to them."

It's also important that supervisors recognize when a call-taker or dispatcher needs to decompress or a shoulder to lean on for a few minutes, Wisely said. "A support system needs to be in place where a person can get out of their seat and go to a quiet place to contemplate [an incident] or talk to somebody, if they're troubled by it," he said.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

AP IMPACT: Cash-strapped states raid 911 funds


By PETER SVENSSON, AP Technology Writer Peter Svensson, Ap Technology Writer – 1 hr 7 mins ago

NEW YORK – More than $200 million collected from cell phone users for upgrades to the 911 system has been diverted in the last two years to plug state budget holes, keep campaign promises and, in at least one case, buy police uniforms, an Associated Press analysis has found.

Dispatchers say the diversion of money comes at the expense of improvements that would give crime and accident victims more opportunities to reach responders. Someone who has been kidnapped, for instance, may not be able to talk but might be able to quietly send a text message or a photo.

Cell phone subscribers in nearly every state pay anywhere from 20 cents to $1.50 a month for what is described in their bills as 911 improvements. In some states, the AP analysis found, less than half that money is actually going to help emergency dispatchers keep pace with the features of smart phones.

As states hammered by the recession look around for new ways to balance their budgets, the 911 money is tempting:

• In New York, only 19 cents of the $1.20 the state collects from each subscriber each month goes to emergency calling services. The rest pays for uniforms for the state police, a wireless network for emergency responders and the state's general expenditures.

• In Wisconsin, a new 75-cent monthly fee was supposed to pay for ongoing 911 operations and improvements. When the state's deficit grew, the state decided to divert $100 million in the next two years to local governments to reduce pressure to raise property taxes.

• In Arizona, lawmakers funneled $25 million from its emergency telecommunications fund, halving its size, and cut its monthly 911 cell phone fee to 20 cents. As a result, the fund could be out of money within three years.

"The issue of (fund) raiding has been a trickle for a few years, and now we're seeing the faucet on full blast," said Dane Snowden, vice president of external and state affairs at wireless industry group CTIA.

A highly publicized round of call center upgrades is nearly complete, allowing 911 dispatchers to automatically pinpoint cell phone callers. But emergency officials say that's no reason to raid funds set aside for future upgrades. After all, voice calls are just one of many things phones can do.

Dispatchers would like the capability to receive photos, videos and text messages from cell phone users in danger. Photos shot by witnesses with camera phones have already proved useful in catching bank robbers and flashers, for instance. Getting those photos to 911 centers — which could get them to police faster — could help solve crimes.

In several cases in recent years, kidnapping victims have summoned help by surreptitiously sending text messages. But because they can't send directly to 911, they've had to use intermediaries.

When David Deganian and a friend were abducted at gunpoint on an Atlanta street early one morning in 2007, Deganian managed to sneak a text message to his brother Arman: "We have been kidnapped. Please call the police and help us."

Later, the friend tried calling 911. The gunmen heard him, interrupted the call and took the phones away. Luckily, Arman Deganian was awake to notice the text message. He got the police on the case, and they rescued his brother and his friend that afternoon.

In a more famous case, a 14-year-old girl in Kershaw County, S.C., was held in an underground bunker for more than a week before she managed to send a text message to her mother from the captor's phone.

Upgrading call centers to handle text and video messaging would require new computer systems, communications lines and staff training, costing tens of millions of dollars per state, according to the National Emergency Number Association.

A complete accounting of how 911 money is spent in all states is not available, partly because most of the money dispatch centers get is funneled to them by counties. The Federal Communications Commission has been collecting information from the states at the request of Congress, and is expected to report its findings soon.

Oregon, Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Wisconsin and Tennessee are among the states that have dipped into their 911 money recently. New York and Rhode Island have been diverting their funds for at least five years. States started collecting the funds in the 1990s.

In the fiscal year that ended in June 2008, Rhode Island collected $19.4 million in 911 fees and used $5.8 million for 911. The rest went to the state's general fund.

Raiding the funds could reduce the money available for 911 upgrades even further, by reducing federal grants. After a round of 911 fund raiding during the previous recession, at the beginning of the decade, the federal government tightened its grant rules to discourage the practice.

To elude the federal government's wagging finger, New York is changing the name of its "Enhanced 911" fee to "Public Safety Communications Surcharge," to make it clearer that 911 is just one of its purposes.

Other states seem to ignore the grants issue.

Oregon collects 75 cents per cell phone per month. Although its attorney general's office concluded that federal laws on 911 grants prohibit using money from wireless bills for purposes other than 911 services, the state took $3 million from an $80 million fund that mingles wireless and landline fees.

"When people pay their bills, they see that they are paying 75 cents per telephone line to fund the 911 system. For the Legislature to turn around and divert some of the money to other purposes is disingenuous. It's just wrong," said Hasina Squires, a lobbyist who represents emergency communications officers in Oregon.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski's office and legislative budget officials defended the decision, citing Oregon's "extraordinary" budget shortfall. They said they took money from various accounts if they determined that doing so wouldn't disrupt core functions of those programs.

Tennessee believes it got around the federal restrictions by leaving the principal in its 911 fund intact and taking out $11 million in accrued interest in the fiscal year that ended June 2008. The fund had $54 million left.

"It begs the question: If you have that much money in holding, why is it still being collected from consumers? It doesn't make any sense," CTIA's Snowden said. "The E911 fund is appearing to be an ATM."


Associated Press Writers Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix; Bradford Cain in Salem, Ore.; Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis.; Lucas Johnson in Nashville, Tenn.; Randall Chase in Dover, Del.; Michael Hill in Albany, N.Y.; and Eric Tucker in Providence, R.I., contributed to this story.

such a relief

Nathan sounds so good and healthy! Oh my.... my heart and mind are more at peace now!!!!

I'm so proud of you, Nathan:o) And I love you so much!!!!!

Yours is an example I need to follow. gosh, I'm proud of you.

Denise would be so proud of you!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More in the Sun by Elaine Allen-Emrich

giant sigh

500 to be questioned as potential jurors in Denise Amber Lee murder trial

North Port Community News Editor

SARASOTA COUNTY -- Michael King's defense attorney argued Wednesday that police officers didn't have a search warrant when they broke into his home on the day of Denise Amber Lee's disappearance.

That was one of 30 pending motions 12th Circuit Judge Deno Economou listened to from both sides in King's hearing at the Sarasota County Courthouse. He is expected to rule on the motions in early August.

A jury trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 17 for King, 38, charged in the kidnapping, rape and murder of 21-year-old Denise on Jan. 17, 2008.

Motions included King's attorney Carolyn Schlemmer declaring "the death penalty is unconstitutional," the need to change the trial's venue, and officers not reading King his rights immediately after he was arrested, when he asked repeatedly for his attorney.

Schlemmer appeared in court with a clean-shaven King whose hands and feet were shackled. He wore a pale yellow jail jumpsuit.

King mostly looked forward at the judge throughout the five-hour hearing. One of the few times he spoke was to answer "yes" when Economou asked if he still wanted Schlemmer to represent him.

"He never made eye contact with me," said Nathan Lee, Denise's husband, who was in court with Denise's father Rick Goff and her brother, Tyler.

Schlemmer argued that on Jan. 17, 2008, North Port police officers should not have entered King's house without a search warrant.

In testimony Wednesday, North Port Detective Lt. Kevin Sullivan said King's neighbor told them they saw him pull into his driveway and park his car in the garage earlier in the day. When police arrived at King's Sardinia Avenue home, they reported hearing voices coming from the residence.

Sullivan ordered two officers to go into the house. Once inside, they saw, "in plain view," duct tape with strands of hair attached. King and Denise were not there.

Schlemmer said that evidence should not be introduced during the trial because it was illegally obtained.

Sullivan said police went inside the home after receiving two 911 calls, one from Denise and the other from King's teenage cousin, Sabrina Muxlow. Sabrina told police her father, Harold Jr., was concerned King may have been holding a woman against her will.

Schlemmer also argued that King would not get a fair trail and asked for the trial to be moved out of Sarasota. The defense asked residents in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties if they had ever heard of Michael King or Denise Amber Lee. Schlemmer called the results "disturbing."

"Some of the comments gathered were so venomous (toward King) they could not be repeated," she said.

Economou said he would consider Schlemmer's change of venue request.

The judge said if a "fair and impartial jury" of 11 people could not be found from 500 potential candidates, he would consider the change.

"I'm inclined to move forward with jury selection," he said.

Assistant State Attorney Lon Arend said Lee's family members requested to be in the courtroom during the anticipated weeklong jury selection in August.

Economou said there might not be enough space if even 100 potential jurors are in the courtroom at once. He said the candidates also might ask who the victim's family members are, and that could affect some jurors.

"I would suggest it be explained that (the victim's family members) have the right to be there," Arend said.

Schlemmer also argued that when King was stopped on Interstate 75 off Toledo Blade Boulevard, near the wooded area where Denise's body was later discovered, he asked for an attorney.
Sullivan said he introduced himself to King, who said he was also abducted. Sullivan said he asked King to show him where he was taken. King said he had a hood over his head and wasn't sure where he was taken.

Schlemmer objected to North Port detectives taking King on a "ride-along," searching for Lee while questioning him.

Officers said because King said he was a victim, they treated him accordingly.

The judge acknowledged that police read King his Miranda rights, but it was hours after a series of interviews with several different police officers.

Schlemmer said due to the delay, King's rights were "clearly violated."

During a break, Nathan said he plans to file a negligence lawsuit in September against the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office for what he calls a "botched" handling of the 911 call from the last witness who saw Denise alive, Jane Kowalski.

"I'll do it after (King's) trial," he said.

Another hearing is set for Aug. 10.

E-mail: eallen@sun-herald.com


Todays North Port Sun by Elaine Allen-Emrich

This should come as no surprise. And IMO the prosecutor is absolutely correct "Alleging of negligence of the police does not constitute a legally recognizable defense to the crime of murder in the first degree, kidnapping or sexual battery."

State wants CCSO lawsuit, Lee foundation information barred from King trial

State prosecutors don't want Nathan Lee's impending civil lawsuit against the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office over what he calls a "botched 911 call" to hinder the criminal case against his wife's accused killer.

According to court documents recently filed by the state attorney's office in Sarasota, Nathan's "alleged negligence" lawsuit and his campaign to improve 911 training after his wife's murder "is not legally relevant and should be excluded from the penalty phase of the trial." Lee can formally file a lawsuit beginning in September.

An Aug. 15 trial is set for Michael King, 38, who is accused of killing Denise Amber Lee, 21, after allegedly kidnapping and raping her on Jan. 17, 2008. Her body was found buried off Toledo Blade Boulevard two days later. The state is seeking the death penalty in the case.

The trial is planned to be at the Sarasota County Courthouse, but King's attorneys are seeking a change of venue due to the massive media coverage of the case. That would be determined at jury selection, according to the state.

In October, Nathan filed an intent to sue against the CCSO alleging negligence led to his wife's death after learning how a nine-minute 911 call from witness Jane Kowalski was handled.

Court documents show that Kowalski later learned it was Denise in the back seat of King's green Camaro while she was on the phone with a 911 operator reporting the suspicious incident.

Kowalski, of Tampa, reported each street she passed on U.S. 41 in Charlotte County while witnessing someone � whom she originally thought was a child � struggling in King's car. She stopped following the car when it turned onto Toledo Blade.

During her call, she asked the Charlotte County 911 operator if there was a BOLO � Be On the Lookout � for a missing person because she saw someone screaming and slapping the car's back window with her hand.

Nathan claims the critical information provided by Kowalski, believed to be the last witness to see Denise alive, was not relayed to CCSO deputies or North Port police officers during the massive manhunt for his wife.

"Numerous accounts in the media have attributed some amount of negligence on the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office for the matter in which the call was handled," the state claims in court documents. "Alleging of negligence of the police does not constitute a legally recognizable defense to the crime of murder in the first degree, kidnapping or sexual battery."

Nathan also formed the Denise Amber Lee Foundation to help create uniform training for 911 operators and other first responders nationwide.

But the state doesn't want Nathan's impending lawsuit against the CCSO or the foundation's work to cloud the criminal case against King.

Prosecutors are asking that neither the lawsuit nor the foundation's efforts be mentioned or even suggested during King's trial. E-mail: eallen@sun-herald.com


North Port Community News Editor

link: http://www.sunnewspapers.net/articles/pnnews.aspx?NewsID=441319&a=newsarchive2/072209/np1.htm&pnpg=0

Tragedy in the 9-1-1 community

Please keep this young family in your thoughts and prayers. It's so awful.

This from http://www.911cares.com/

This tragic loss occurred this past Sunday, July 19th. The Sheriff’s office is still searching for the body and the agency has asked for cards, prayers and checks that will be used ONLY for funeral costs that are uncovered by insurance and for a college fund for the family. Please do what you can, this is a very special dispatcher and an agency in crisis after the loss described below. Make checks payable to the Rasmussen family fund and mail them to the Davis Police department – their address is listed below.

From the dispatch center:

Sunday, July 19th, one of our dispatcher's husband died in a tragic drowning accident at Lake Berryessa.

Jennifer Rasmussen, a 6 year dispatcher, Communications Trainer and Tactical Dispatcher with the Davis Police Department, tragically lost her husband, Clint Rasmussen, in a drowning accident at Lake Berryessa Sunday, July 19th. The family was on their new boat for the first time when her husband jumped in the water. It is believed he hit his head on the boat, and did not resurface. She dove in to try and save him, but could not pull him up. Both children, Clint Jr (11yrs) and Courtney (9 yrs) were on the boat at the time. As of this email, his body has not been recovered. He did not have life insurance.

"Razzy" as we call her, is an amazing and dedicated employee, whose always giving to others in time of need. She was the recipient of the Dispatcher Of The Year award in 2007. We love her and her family, and are just coming to grips with this loss.

While we are still in the process of setting up the needs of the family, we ask that any/all cards/letters/checks be sent to the PD:
Davis PD c/o Dispatch 2600 5th, Davis CA 95618. We are in the process of setting up a trust account/college fund for the kids, or seeing if they need assistance with funeral costs. We will pass on any updates for you to post at 911 CARES (www.pstc911.com )

This is the latest newstory I could find:


Tuesday, July 21, 2009


We lost Denise in January of 2008. It was probably the most devastating experience of my life. I was 50 years old at the time of Denise's death and felt I had already experienced enough tragedy in my lifetime to write a book. Little did I know what the word "tragedy" meant. On http://www.dictionary.com/ "tragedy" is defined as "a dramatic composition, often in verse, dealing with a serious or somber theme, typically that of a great person destined through a flaw of character or conflict with some overpowering force, as fate or society, to downfall or destruction."

Denise was definitely a great person and yes, an overpowering force (the murderer), fate and society all contributed to her destruction (death). And she had NO flaws in her character.

Denise was such a sweet person. There was not a malicious bone in her body. She had a beautiful heart. It's damn difficult to come up with anything negative to say about her.

Now that her trial is coming up we're having to confront more than ever the harsh reality of her demise. In the beginning when Denise first died, I had a terrible time remembering and mourning her without staring evil (the alleged murderer and murder) straight in the face. Every time Denise would pop into my head, so would the evil things that he did to her. I'd picture her pregnant with Adam and wearing that pretty green dress on Easter Sunday 2007. It's one of my favorite visuals of her. She looked so lovely as Pastor John let the doves fly over the church. Denise was beautiful on the inside as well as out. Then the evil would enter the picture frame. Damn difficult to keep out those visuals. Innocent until proven guilty. sigh. Free will. sigh. Where was Denise's free will?

Anyhow, for the past year and half I've done my best not to think about him. I've done my best not to expend any emotional energy on him. I had gotten to the point where I could start thinking of Denise and visualizing her without his entering that picture frame.

Now it's back to square one. Hell. Pure hell.

Yes, I've missed her so much this past year and a half. We've all been working so hard to build a positive out of a negative but the harsh reality is that no matter how hard we try NOTHING can stop the pain and suffering we are about to endure and have endured.

I cringe and shudder thinking about the trial.

I cry day and night thinking for my son and what he's enduring. I simply can't imagine. I'm crying now. It's so damn difficult not to. You have to wonder will the pain ever go away?

I wonder at the array of characters who will be in the courtroom during the trial. I think and grieve for the eyewitnesses. The young lady living next door. The cousin. The cousin's daughter. The eyewitnesses who saw Denise struggling in the car who didn't call 9-1-1. The 9-1-1 squad on duty that night. Bill Cameron. John Davenport.

So many missed opportunities.

You wonder, experiencing a tragedy of this magnitude, how you can help stop another family from suffering the way we have.

And then I think of how Denise suffered. Oh my God. That's when I question God and if s/he exists. How could a God exist who would condone such evil and harm? I was taught that "God is all forgiving". "God is love". Hah! Is not that condoning those evil deeds? Once again, according to http://www.dictionary.com/ "condone" is defined as "to pardon or forgive (an offense); excuse."

It's going to be a long time before I reach that point if I ever reach that point. So, this guy not only robbed us of Denise, he stole our faith too. He stole our family. He stole our sense of goodness.

My friend Dan shared this quote:

"Courage, it would seem, is nothing less than the power to overcome danger, misfortune, fear, injustice, while continuing to affirm inwardly that life with all its sorrows is good; that everything is meaningful even if in a sense beyond our understanding; and that there is always tomorrow." -- Dorothy Thompson, American journalist 1893-1961

I keep telling myself that.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Denise Amber Lee's husband: Charlotte Co. officials hid information

This is just one of the many stories printed and aired this past week. When Nathan first decided to sue the CCSO, I was appalled. We're not a vindictive family and do not favor frivolous lawsuits. I'm starting to understand that not all lawsuits that I might consider frivolous actually are. Many have purposes that may not be seen on the surface. And, yes, some that I consider frivolous really are frivolous!

Nathan's lawsuit is anything but. It's very serious and has much to do with public safety especially in Charlotte County. I can't express how relieved that this is finally going forward and we're going to get the answers we've been waiting for. Denise will not have died in vain. She fought tooth and nail to live. And we will fight tooth and nail so that more people don't have to die because someone is not doing their job.

Those people who screwed up in such a major way will finally be held accountable. People are constantly asking me how can Denise's dad continue to work there. The question should be how can these people continue to work there? If people only knew the whole story they'd truly understand why this NEEDS to be done. I'll say it again, that no matter how wonderful your training is and no matter how latest the technology you have is, if you FAIL to use them appropriately, they are USELESS. AND, if the people in charge are already aware that their employees ARE not doing their jobs correctly, and that person is in a position that holds someone's life in their hands, and you let them continue to do a shoddy job, tragedy will happen. And it happened to Denise. And you willfully allowed it to happen. Either because you were too lazy or too weak or too stupid to make those individuals step up and do their jobs. . I speak only for myself and not my family when I get into a rant like this. But, I've read that IA report 3 times and all it does is raise even more questions. And it IS a relief to finally be getting some answers.

I'll get off the soapbox.

Denise Amber Lee's husband: Charlotte Co. officials hid information
Laura Kadechka 10connects.com

Englewood, Florida - It's been a year and a half since Denise Amber Lee was abducted from her North Port home, raped and murdered and yet her husband says he still doesn't know exactly what happened.

Nathan Lee tells 10 Connects, he believes the answers lie behind the black redacted lines within hundreds of pages of documents released by the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office.

"They're hiding something they don't like," said Lee from the Englewood home he shares with his two young son's Noah and Adam.

He flipped through page after page of an Internal Affairs investigation report released by the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office regarding the botched 911 phone call Lee says could have saved his wife's life.

The call was placed by a Tampa woman, Jane Kowalski, who was driving through Charlotte County when she says she saw Denise fighting for her life in the backseat of her accused killer's car.

"I knew something was wrong. You know when you have a gut instinct, make the call. Better to be safe than sorry. Better be safe than sorry," Kowalski told 10 Connects in January on the one year anniversary of Denise's brutal murder.

For nine minutes Kowalksi followed the green Camero while remaining on the line with 911, but help for Denise never came.

Her body was found two days later, naked and buried in a shallow grave. The 21-year-old mother of two was dead from one gun shot wound.

It was later determined through the Internal Affairs investigation, the information Kowalski provided to 911 was never dispatched to deputies. The call essentially fell through the cracks.

According to the IA investigation, call center workers in Charlotte County knew that a BOLO (be on the look out) for the green Camero had been issued in North Port where dozens of officers were searching Lee's neighborhood. A neighbor reported seeing the car around the same time Lee disappeared.

The IA report states "Call taker Mildred Stepp realizes the importance of this call and stands up to say that the information needs to get out on the radio."

Lee and his attorneys question this statement and believe the answers lie behind redacted portions of the investigation's documents.

"Three people thought someone else sent it out to dispatch, that's the story the state of Florida and indeed the nation now have heard about the Denise Amber Lee case," said attorney Patrick Boyle, "I find it suspicious when they ask everybody who was in that room questions...did the operator actually stand up and say the things the things they said she said when she stood up...the answers and questions around those issues are where we are seeing deletes and blackouts."

Boyle is with the law firm Franfurt, Kurnit, Klein and Selz out of New York. They took on the case this year.

On Tuesday, Lee and his attorneys filed a petition for a pure bill of discovery with the 20th Judicial District Court to let the courts decide whether they should get all of the information...including what's been redacted.

"The nature of the mistakes, who made the mistakes and when and how will be revealed, I believe, if we can get the documents that are in this binder without all of the redactions in it," said Boyle.

They don't just want the information to get answers, they say they need it for a lawsuit they are planning to file against the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office in September.

They filed a notice of intent in March and have to wait six months before filing the lawsuit.

"A big part of the lawsuit will be to get the un-redacted documents, but believe me, not getting the documents won't stop us from filing this lawsuit," said Boyle.

"I'm extremely anxious to know what happened and to have the details on what happened so we can move forward," Lee told 10 Connects.

Lee and Denise's family have been working for the last year and a half to reform Florida's 911 systems. They were able to get the Denise Amber Lee Act passed, but it only makes emergency dispatcher certification voluntary. They plan to introduce new legislation in the upcoming session to make certification mandatory.

"My biggest focus is being a dad and doing the best with my kids and they're amazing and they're happy, but being able to help not making Denise's death be in vain and help turn a negative into a positive is something I'm going to dedicate the rest of my life to. She deserves that," said Lee.

The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office did not want to comment on the allegations they were trying to hide something. Calls were referred to the State Attorney's Office in Sarasota where the sheriff's office says the documents were turned over.

Michael King, the man accused of kidnapping, raping and killing Denise Amber Lee goes to trial next month. He is facing the death penalty.



Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Good news for family and friends of Jamie Neale in Australia

In the past I've posted several blogs about David Iredale, the young Aussie who was lost in the Blue Mountains. He called 0-0-0 (our 9-1-1) from his cell phone begging for assistance 5 (five) times but was later found dead from lack of water. Recently another young man went missing (Jamie Neale) along it seems the same trail in Australia. Hard for me to speculate as I live in a different hemisphere. But! Fortunately Jamie Neale has been found.

The article below talks about the dispatchers and call takers who handled David's calls. It's seems as if the inquest into David's death is ending. They mention a "lack of empathy" and allude to a certain callousness in the call takers. Now, most of the call takers and dispatchers that I've met in our journeys are hard working, diligent and dedicated individuals who continually look for ways to improve their comm centers. That's good news.

SADLY not all people are cut out for this profession. And that's one reason why we are fighting so hard for mandatory, standardized training and certification. Yes, there will always be human error. But! We need to minimize those errors!

I'll get off my soapbox.

Dear Neale family, I'm very happy you found your son. You've been going through hell, I'm sure. I'm glad that hell is over.

Dear Iredale family, I'm so sorry you've been thrust into the news again and that the pain (which I believe never goes away) went deeper again with the story being renewed. Hopefully my blogging does not add to your pain. If it does, I need to know and I'll stop. It is our belief that the more people hear and read about these 9-1-1/0-0-0 tragedies, the sooner changes will come about. God bless you. I pray you find peace.

Triple-0 review urged by coroner as Iredale inquest ends

7/05/2009 12:50:00 PM

The preoccupation of ambulance call takers with getting addresses and the regimented system under which they work was "astounding", a coroner has found today, after recommending a full review of triple-0 services in the wake of the death of schoolboy David Iredale.

At an inquest into the Sydney Grammar student's death, Deputy State Coroner Carl Milovanovich made a number of recommendations, including that the ambulance service, police, fire and Telstra call operators who answer triple-0 phone calls review the structure of their operations.

This inquest has identified that in all the calls David Iredale made to triple zero ... there was a lack of empathy and call takers lacked the skills ... to record vital information that was crucial," Mr Milovanovich said.

David, 17, died after becoming lost during a three-day hike in the Blue Mountains in December 2006.

He had believed the walk would count towards his silver Duke of Edinburgh award.

The coroner said David had died of severe hydration as a result of a "critical miscalculation" of the amount he and his two schoolfriends would need for a hike in the Blue Mountains.

David's body was found off the Mount Solitary track, close to the Kedumba River and the water he so desperately needed.

"David's death highlights just how dangerous ... the Australian bush can be," Mr Milovanovich said.

He also thanked David's parents for their role in assisting the inquest, telling them that the death of their son had pulled at his heart strings.

"To die of dehydration in bushland so close to water and only kilometres as the crow flies from civilisation ... only magnifies the extent of the tragedy," Mr Milovanovich said.

The coroner said among the issues to be considered should be whether there is a single state-wide call centre for all triple-0 calls, improved protocols for callers from remote locations to ensure there is no duplication in questions asked.

Mr Milovanovich said he was astonished that the Ambulance Service of NSW had not conducted a review or analysis of its performance following the teenager's death.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Alex Teehee (Charlotte Sun)

Please keep this family in your prayers. I have no words. Just prayers, feeble and as humble as they are.

This family needs justice. They need it ASAP. And Alex? He needs to be able to rest in peace.

Family hopeful arrest will be made soon in death of Alex Teehee

Staff Writer

NORTH PORT -- This week marked the year anniversary of Alex Teehee's death, and his family has been told that people of interest have been identified and an arrest will be made in the near future.

On July 13, Alex, 20, was struck by a van while walking on the edge of Sibley Bay Street around 11 p.m. in Port Charlotte, where he had just moved from North Port.

He was flown to Lee Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead the next day.

Alex would have celebrated his 21st birthday June 16. He is survived by his two sons, who also celebrated birthdays in June -- Kaden turned 4 on June 23, and Eli turned 3 on June 2.

Alex's sister, Jana Thompson, said the family is doing all right.

"The boys are doing great," she said Tuesday. "My parents are doing OK. My dad is probably doing better than my mom.

"We want justice, and we're not ever going to be able to fully recover. And we can't grieve properly either, because we're distracted by the no arrests."

The family continues to offer a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect. Hand-written signs advertising it have been posted around North Port and Charlotte County.

Thompson said the Teehees have been apprised of the ongoing investigation being conducted jointly by the Florida Highway Patrol -- which is in charge of the investigation into Alex's death -- the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office and State Attorney's Office. She said the investigation is at a critical stage and so they have been asked not to make public comments about the investigation at this time.

In March, FHP Lt. Chris Miller said he understood the family is frustrated.

"We have not treated this as a cold case," Miller said at the time. "In fact, we have had new leads and have spent time investigating. What has made things hard is some of the witnesses have left the area."

FHP could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

"We believe that the individuals who are responsible for Alex's death have been identified, and we are hopeful charges will be forthcoming in the near future," Thompson said.

Thompson said there is also some survivor's guilt that comes into play "because you're enjoying life." She said there have also been a lot of misconceptions about Alex's death.

"He didn't take his own life, he wasn't involved in an accident, or suffer from a medical condition. Someone chose to take his life, and I think people don't understand that," she said. "People think we want attention, when we really don't. People don't think about the difference, and I think the grieving process differs in each instance."

Thompson said some of his friends still post messages on Alex's MySpace page, saying they can't get over his death.

"It affects everyone completely different. Hopefully everyone will learn from this, and learn that life isn't peaches and cream," she said.

On June 13, friends of the Teehee family held a fundraiser at Charlotte County Motorsports Park in Alex's memory. Children of the Milthaler family, also of North Port -- who Thompson called "rabid race fans" -- asked their parents if they could do something to honor Alex. The two families didn't really know each other well before Alex's death.

"I think, one of their older sisters knew Alex, and he had been over to their house. He was like a big kid, he always played with the little kids, so they really liked him," Thompson said. "And the parents, they were struck by him. They've been good to the boys, bringing them presents at Christmas and Easter. We're blessed to have them in our lives."

Thompson said her family just wants to make the community aware that there hasn't been an arrest.

"And we're confident that the people responsible are from North Port," she said. "We just don't want this to happen to someone else."

Anonymous tips about the Teehee case may be left at the Crime Stoppers tip line at 941-366-8477.

E-mail: annek@sun-herald.com

Federal oversight of 911 funds is needed (from Urgent Communications)

After reading the article on MSNBC yesterday, I went back and read this article by Glenn Bischoff. I thought I should post it here. I feel remiss in not posting it before. But as most of you know my world is a little topsy turvy right now. Quite the roller coaster. It is upsetting and word needs to get out. I guess I seem to some people obsessed with this stuff. Oh well. I don't feel so much obsessed as I feel driven and compelled.

I've been reading about the Leutjens story. There's so much more to it than people know. I'll try and post more later. But for now here's Glenn Bischoff's article about federal oversight of 9-1-1 funds. I truly wish I would have posted this when I first read it. I read so much about this stuff, I get almost dizzy and have to go back to re-read it. But it ties into the other article so neatly.


Federal oversight of 911 funds is needed
Jul 9, 2009 4:07 PM, By Glenn Bischoff

It’s time that state piracy of money collected for emergency communications networks is ended once and for all

This week, the National Emergency Number Association, National Association of State 911 Administrators and the 911 Industry Alliance jointly issued a policy statement that addressed the long-standing practice of state and local governments raiding funds collected to pay for 911 emergency communications systems. These groups pointed out that federal law requires state and local governments that impose 911 fees to use the money for the intended purpose. They also strongly urged state and local governments to “refrain from diverting 911 for unintended or unauthorized purposes.”

That’s fine. These organizations are advocates for the 911 sector and issuing statements such as this one, and lobbying lawmakers and policymakers, is exactly what they should be doing — and they do a great job. But asking state and local governments to cease the siphoning, particularly in this economic climate, is analogous to me telling my dog to stay out of the treat bowl after I’ve placed it uncovered on the coffee table and then left the room.

A while back Congress tried to discourage this practice by passing legislation that would make any state that diverted 911 funds ineligible for grants from the Enhance 911 Act of 2004, which authorized up to $1.25 billion for public-safety answering point (PSAP) upgrades. Unfortunately, that has had as much impact as the bark of a toothless dog, as Congress only has appropriated $43.5 million to date. Spread over 50 states and several territories, that money is hardly incentive to keep states from continuing the piracy.

Another problem, according to Jeff Robertson, executive director of the 911 Industry Alliance, is the grant program’s match requirement. “They don’t bother applying for the money because they can’t come up with the matching funds,” Robertson said. “That’s happened in a lot of cases.”

So is it any wonder then that the state of Wisconsin recently moved $20 million collected for 911 to its general fund? Or that the states of Oregon, Hawaii and Delaware also shifted millions of dollars collected for 911 to their general funds? What’s to stop them?

On that note, I asked Robertson whether the time had come for the federal government to wrest control of 911 funding from the states. He predicted that “there would be a ton of opposition to that.” One concern is that states with heavier political clout might be able to wrangle a disproportionate share of the money. “Also, you’d then have three tiers that could skim off the top,” Robertson said.

As a follow up, I suggested that the federal government at least take on an overseer role by performing audits of how the states use money collected for 911. I further suggested tougher sanctions, perhaps making pirating states ineligible for any federal money, including dollars targeted for roads, education and social programs. What good is a sanction, after all, if it doesn’t hurt?

“That would help,” Robertson said. “If you put a spotlight on it, even if it’s just the auditing process, that would be great, because then the public would see it and politicians thinking of putting their hands on those funds would know they’ll have to answer to somebody.”

Indeed, a big part of the 911 sector’s policy strategy going forward, Robertson said, centers on educating the general public on this issue. The thinking is that if the public is aware of the potential negative impact on 911 communications of these funding raids — for instance, the inability to locate wireless callers and/or to take calls from VoIP users — it will put pressure on lawmakers and policy officials to make substantive changes or risk being voted out of office.

It’s a great idea. The public instinctively believes that the 911 system is going to work without fail, every time. It would be good for them to know that might not always be the case. It also would be good for them to understand that states which divert funds expressly collected to operate, maintain and improve the 911 communications system to other purposes are — philosophically, if not legally — defrauding the public. While there is safety in numbers, there also is power.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Some 911 centers can’t keep tabs on cell phones

Link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31786185/ns/technology_and_science-wireless/page/2/

Before you read the article on the MSNBC website, be prepared that if you click on the "green" links, you shouldn't expect to receive more information on 9-1-1, you'll get nothing but AT & T and Samsung adverstising. I like this quote “The more choices you have to reach 911 in an emergency, the better, and a corded land line phone should be one of those options,” said Brian Fontes, chief executive of NENA.

Brian Fontes is urging people to keep their corded land line phone while AT & T is advertising Blackberrys. Hah!

More of my opinion at the end of the article:

Aging systems can’t pinpoint some users when they need help the most

By Alex Johnson
updated 8:05 a.m. ET, Mon., July 13, 2009

Donnie and Sharon Leutjen and their 15-year-old granddaughter, Taron Leutjen, were found June 9. They had been shot to death, and their bodies had lain in their home in Cole Camp, Mo., for about two days.

Authorities know approximately when the Leutjens were shot because they got a 911 call on the night of June 7.

On the tape of the call — which investigators examined after the worried inquiries of someone who knew the family led to the bodies' discovery — “one of the male voices was directing Sharon Leutjen to sit down (and) put her arms behind her,” the sheriff’s office in Benton County, in central Missouri, said in court documents.

“At least two threats to shoot her and the other two victims” could be heard, the sheriff’s office said.

So why didn’t deputies rush to the scene as soon as they got the call?

They couldn’t. They didn’t know where it came from. Whoever made the call used a cell phone, and Benton County’s technology isn’t advanced enough to take advantage of location services that are standard features of nearly all cell phones sold today.

Benton County isn’t an isolated example. Cell phones may lure us with the promise of immediate help in an emergency, but depending on where you live, that promise can go unkept because of inadequate technology at one or both ends of a 911 call.

“Access to 911 from cell phones is very different from wired phones and also varies greatly around the country,” said the National Emergency Number Association, or NENA, the nonprofit industry group that works with governments to promote and institute 911 programs across North America.

In places that haven’t upgraded their 911 centers to the latest technology, “this presents life-threatening problems due to lost response time” if callers are unable to speak or don’t know where they are, the organization said.

That’s why emergency officials and wireless industry leaders say every household should have a centrally located, easily accessible land line for emergency calls. But increasingly, Americans are dropping their land lines and going wireless-only.

Some systems find only a cell tower

The problem is that, by definition, a mobile phone can be anywhere. It isn’t tied to an address, which automatically pops up on a 911 operator’s screen during a call from a land line.

As cell phones have morphed into all-in-one multimedia toolboxes, U.S. carriers have integrated technology to use Global Positioning System satellites or their own towers to triangulate a phone’s location. It’s called Enhanced 911, or E911, and under Federal Communications Commission regulations, such capability must be built in to at least 95 percent of the phones a carrier sells.

But that information is only as good as the 911 infrastructure.

A decade after the Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act was enacted in 1999, requiring cell phone carriers to provide a caller’s location to 911, about 10 percent of the nation’s more than 6,000 call centers haven’t installed the equipment to use the information, NENA found in February. Those jurisdictions still offer only 1990s-vintage basic 911, which rely on callers’ knowing where they are and being able to communicate that.

“On cell phones, we do not have an exact location,” said Ken White, operations manager of the 911 center in Tulsa, Okla., which has asked for state help to pay for an E911 upgrade that will show a cell phone’s location and call-back number. Such information often isn’t now available, even though a little more than half of Tulsa’s 911 calls come in from cell phones, about the same proportion as they do nationwide.

E911 doesn’t solve all problems

Meanwhile, the 90 percent of systems that do relay a phone’s position don’t ensure that emergency crews will be able to find the caller.

For one thing, the accuracy of location data generally drops in rural areas, where older, less-advanced cell towers can be farther apart, the Congressional Research Service found in a background report for lawmakers late last year. And it can drop in densely populated cities, where a phone might show up as being at 1 Main St., with no indication of whether it’s on the seventh or the 77th floor.

Depending on the technology a carrier is using — GPS or tower triangulation — FCC regulations allow a margin of error of up to 300 meters for some E911-capable phones. That’s longer than three football fields.

The FCC also leaves it up to carriers to determine whether they’re complying with the E911 mandate. One way they can do that, it says, is “to prevent reactivation of older handsets” — in other words, when your contract runs out, the carrier can insist that you pay for a newer phone if you want to keep your service.

Analog system outdated in digital world

But the biggest obstacle is the underlying architecture of the 911 system itself.

The nonprofit 911 Industry Alliance found last year that most 911 systems still rely on older analog hardware. Even digital E911 operations are usually built — “or, perhaps more accurately, ‘jury-rigged’” — on analog platforms that reflect “the legacy telephone technology of the time the system was first designed,” it said.

That would be the late 1960s, when 911 service was optional and ran on circuits run by a single local land line provider. Today, call centers operate under scores of different local and state regulations that must accommodate not only land lines and traditional wireless phones, but also pre-paid mobile phones and Internet devices, all offered by dozens of deregulated carriers.

The result, the alliance said, is a fragmented system that leaves “many wireless callers without the benefits of location identification information when they call 911.”

That means a land line is still your best option in an emergency, NENA and AT&T said last week in launching a campaign urging Americans to keep some form of wired service for making emergency calls.

“The more choices you have to reach 911 in an emergency, the better, and a corded land line phone should be one of those options,” said Brian Fontes, chief executive of NENA.

More Americans dropping land lines

Americans, however, are increasingly disregarding that message.

Since 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked Americans about their cell phone service when it conducts its twice-yearly National Health Interview Survey. The number of U.S. households that have ditched their land lines completely has risen consistently.

For the first time, wireless-only households hit 20 percent during the second half of last year, the CDC said, compared with 3.5 percent in 2003. Those households include nearly 19 percent of all children in the United States, the CDC found.

And when one of those families has to call 911, “they are apt to be disappointed — and left in the lurch,” the 911 Industry Alliance concluded.

“Consumers are often unaware of the limitations of 911 service in various geographic areas or with respect to certain technologies,” the alliance said, something it said should be “a grave source of concern for policymakers and industry professionals.”

NBC stations KJRH of Tulsa, Okla., and KYTV of Springfield, Mo., contributed to this report.

More of my opinion

Are not the phone companies the ones cleaning up as far as profits and dollars?

1.) It's very confusing and I'm not sure any one is (if you know, and you're reading this please enlighten me) regulating how the fees are being spent that we pay on our cellular phone bills each month for 9-1-1 service. Where does that money go? We've been trying to figure that out. It doesn't seem to be going to the 9-1-1 centers. It's either going into fat boys and girls profits or into better cell phones. Maybe it should be going to 9-1-1 centers. Or maybe to newer towers or more towers in rural areas? Just a thought! Sorry to sound sarcastic but..... geesh! This is important!

2.) Lucky phone companies. If people are "stuck" keeping their landlines then the phone companies get to continue to send TWO bills each month. We're pretty much blackmailed into keeping our landlines if we want 9-1-1 service. Call me a conspiracy theorist but I wonder why should the phone companies step up and come up with a solution? Because it's the right thing to do and because it will save lives? If that were the case, they would have found a way by now IMNSHO.

3.) As the economy worsens and I can't imagine it getting any worse, but still it is.... people have to start cutting back where they can as far as expenditures. Mark and I got rid of landline months ago. Why? Because we simply can't afford it and we pray to God (that is at the times we believe s/he exists) that if we ever have to call 9-1-1 we're capable of telling the call taker where we are. If we can't! Well. I guess we're going to be S O L.

I do like this part:

Cell Phones and 911

Industry groups offer this guidance for cell phone users who find themselves needing emergency assistance:

Know your device

911 can be contacted from nearly every device that can make phone calls, but callback and location information can vary drastically among technologies and between regions. It is your job to know the benefits and limitations of various technologies. Contact your service provider for more information.

Memorize important information

Being able to tell the 911 operator your address (your parents’ names if you are a child) and your phone number will get help faster. If you aren’t at home and don’t know the address where you are, look around for a street sign or a building with a name on it.

911 isn’t as cool as you are

You can’t yet text or IM “9-1-1” to reach emergency services. That technology is in the testing phase, but for now you have to make an old-fashioned phone call if you want to talk to 911.

Adapted from “Making 911 Work for You,” a publication of the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials, CTIA/The Wireless Foundation and the National Emergency Number Association.

Sorry for ranting. But I just can't help myself sometimes! I wish I didn't sound so angry and frustrated. I wish people could see what's going on and what needs to be done. I know there are many people out there doing their best to see what can be done. But, to me, it seems to be taking forever and I'm so worried more people are going to die because we can't seem to find an answer with the phone companies. It's terribly terribly sad.

I apologize. Just know if you're calling 9-1-1 from a cell phone, please, be able to tell them your location.

Aside to Kevin: I love you. You definitely "get it". That is so appreciated:o)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Prepaid Wireless and 9-1-1 (Urgent Communications article)

My opinion, article to follow: While, yes, absolutely "the time for talking about this is over"! But, I'd like to add, we need to use those funds collected to be able to find these phones when someone calls for 9-1-1 assistance. Denise Amber Lee had the comm center on the phone for 7 (seven minutes). She most likely, fully expecting to be found. If we're not going to do any of this any time soon, we need to educate the public on what their cell phones and 9-1-1 centers can and cannot do. Too many people are watching CSI and Law and Order and have expectations about 9-1-1 that are quite simply unrealistic. So if you're just going to keep talking, at least, educate people. The woman who died in Oklahoma, Kimberly Rae Kendrick, the young boy in Australia, David Iredale, Jennifer Johnson in Tampa, Olida Kerr Day in Miami etc........ They all expected to be found through wireless technology and were tragically disappointed. Denise's call was made from the alleged murderer's own PRE-PAID cell phone. IMO NENA, and other 9-1-1 industry experts need to start educating people on how to use 9-1-1 from any wireless phone. They can't expect a sales clerk at a sales counter, making minimum wage plus commission, selling cell phones to do that job. JMHO. I've seen some literature but definitely not enough because regular folks, outside the industry, just have no clue.

Solution may be near for prepaid wireless 911 funding dilemma

Jul 9, 2009 5:51 PM, By Glenn Bischoff

The advent of prepaid wireless phones created a nasty problem for the 911 emergency-communications sector. Where wireless operators collect 911 fees from their monthly subscribers, they cannot collect from prepaid customers because those customers don’t have billing plans; they simply purchase minutes through various retail outlets.

It’s a problem that’s getting bigger, according to Patrick Halley, government affairs director for the National Emergency Number Association, who led a panel discussion on the topic last month at the organization’s annual conference in Fort Worth, Texas. Citing various sources, Halley said that 20% of wireless phone users are prepaid and that 80% of new users in May were such customers.

Moreover, Halley cited a report from the New Millennium Research Council that predicted that 60 million people nationwide would shift to less-expensive wireless plans as a result of the flagging economy. Many are expected to migrate to pay-as-you-go options.

“This is a rapidly growing market, without a doubt,” Halley said.
Several approaches have been floated to ensure that prepaid customers contribute their fair share to state 911 funds. The one that is gaining the most momentum calls for legislation that would require retailers to tack a 911 fee onto the purchase price of the prepaid wireless phone cards they sell, in part because it appears to be the easiest to implement.

But is this approach fair to the retail community? Mark Barfield, a vice president with Radio Shack, who also participated in the panel discussion at NENA, doesn’t think so. “There are tens of thousands of mom-and-pop stores that sell these things and many won’t comply,” Barfield said. “Small businesses will think that no one will catch them if they don’t charge the fee.”

That would put any retailer that does comply with such a mandate at a distinct competitive disadvantage, according to Barfield.

“People will come into our store and ask, ‘Why are you collecting this fee when the store down the street isn’t’ — and then they will shop down the street,” Barfield said. Not only would that cost the retailer a sale, but it also could create an unfair perception in the mind of the customer, he added. “People will think we’re cheating them, when we’re just complying with the law.”

But the fact that no mechanism currently is in place to collect 911 fees from pre-paid wireless users is costing the public-safety sector nationwide roughly $200 million a year, money that is sorely needed, especially in a down economy, said Jeff Robertson, executive director of the 911 Industry Alliance, who also participated in the panel discussion.

“The time for talking about this is over,” Robertson said. “A point-of-sale model is the best way to go, so let’s get it done. We could debate this for another year, but anything that we come up with, someone will be able to poke holes in it.”

For those retailers that believe this approach to be unfair, Robertson had some simple advice: “If you don’t want to subscribe to this model, don’t sell the [cards].”


Thursday, July 9, 2009


(posted in both blogs)

With the trial looming just ahead I thought I'd share some of my feelings. Jury selection starts August 17th. Already news stories are hitting the papers. Today's news story was actually about Coralrose Fullwood. Somehow our story made it into her story because they are delaying her alleged murderer's trial for our trial. I forget the judge's exact words but they were basically "there's no way in hell we can do both trials at the same time". The other stories are about the prosecution releasing new information to the defense.

Ugh! So once again, we have to see the alleged perpetrator's face on a daily basis.

Anyhow, our family's nerves are all on edge and we're all pretty frazzled.

I posted my hurricane chart in my homicide blog and many homicide survivors and PTSD sufferers have said it mirrors their feelings exactly. You do. You feel as if you are in the eye of a great hurricane with debris just swirling around you. All kinds of extraneous things are flying by. Some of it's good stuff and some of it's ugly stuff. They weave near and far while they are flying by at heavy rates of speed. People and relationships are doing the same thing. Sometimes you're close and at other times you're as far away as the moon. Because you're stuck in the eye and can't get out, you have no control over any of it. You try and reach for the good stuff, the best you can. And it ain't easy.

With the trial looming ahead, I'd like to use another mother nature analogy. Now with the trial just over a month a way, I feel as if a great tsunami is headed our way. We know it. We can't control it and it just keeps coming. Each day as it gets closer, it looms larger and larger in the distance. Nothing we can do about it. No way to stop it. I keep having visions of court TV and those distraught families who sit there and have to endure all the pain of listening to it all. I'm horrified of what I'll find out about what the alleged murderer did to Denise. I really don't know the details. I know it was pretty darn bad. I'm horrified at the thought of my son, sitting there having to see the pictures and the evidence. I'm horrified about sitting in the same room with evil. Breathing the same air.

So as the tsunami looms closer you try to prepare but you know, no matter how much you prepare, nothing can prepare you for the havoc it will wreak in your life. You just wait for the great giant wave to wash over you. You just want to swim through it to the other side where there's calm and peace. Sadly, you're still in the water and to survive you have to swim back to the devastation on the shore and at home. You then have to start picking up the pieces, that is if there are any pieces left. You know that the pieces will be broken. Yes, they can be mended and so you start on that journey of picking up the broken shattered pieces of your family.

That's how I feel. And no matter how much I want to "put it into God's hands" it ain't gonna be good. No matter how much I breathe in and out to calm myself, it's still going to break my heart (as it does everyday) to watch my son suffer.

Dear Denise, I'll be there. Every single day. I miss you more than words in a stupid blog can express.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ed Freeman

I don't normally blog about stuff other than about Denise and 9-1-1. I also don't usually forward "chain" mass emails or whatever it is they are called. So, this post may seem a bit off topic and a little out of character but I feel compelled to write about it anyway. My younger brother, a sergeant in the Army and who has served over in Iraq on several occasions, sent this to me about "Ed Freeman". I've never heard of him. And that seems sad. Because I love history and I love reading about heroes. I love reading about the men and women behind the scenes that "step up" and take action just when all hope is lost. There are so many good people on this earth.

There was another article about Denise's alleged murderer today in the paper. Ugh! It's been a difficult time the closer we're getting to the trial. I feel sicker and sicker and can't get Denise out of my mind and what she went through. I try but it's difficult. Too much time on my hands I guess. If my hours at work hadn't been cut back so drastically because of the economy and my dysfunction, maybe I'd be working today instead of thinking about all this.

Anyhow, thank you, Danny, for sending this to me. It's warms my heart knowing there is true goodness out there. I know there is, sometimes I just need to be reminded.

Ed Freeman

You're a 19 year old kid. You're critically wounded, and dying in the jungle in the Ia Drang Valley , 11-14-1965, LZ X-ray, Vietnam . Your infantry unit is outnumbered 8-1, and the enemy fire is so intense, from 100 or 200 yards away, that your own Infantry Commander has ordered the Medi-Vac helicopters to stop coming in.

You're lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns, and you know you're not getting out. Your family is half way around the world-12,000 miles away-and you'll never see them again. As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day.

Then, over the machine gun noise, you faintly hear that sound of helicopter, and you look up to see an un-armed Huey, but it doesn't seem real, because no Medi-Vac markings are on it.

Ed Freeman is coming for you. He's not Medi-Vac, so it's not his job, but he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire, after the Medi-Vacs were ordered not to come.

He's coming anyway.

And he drops it in, and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load 2 or 3 of you on board.

Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire, to the doctors and nurses.

And, he kept coming back.13 more times.and took about 30 of you and your buddies out, who would never have gotten out.

Medal of Honor Recipient, Ed Freeman, died last Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at the age of 80, in Boise, ID.May God rest his soul......

Medal of Honor Winner

Ed Freeman


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Denise Amber Lee

I miss her so much.... Everyday. And now that the trial is approaching it's getting harder and harder to think about her without remembering what the creep did to her. It's just unimaginable. Treasure those you love close. They can be taken in an instant. Once that happens....

I don't think it's something anyone ever gets over.

Who can blame us for trying to keep her memory alive? Who can blame for looking for ways to keep her from dying in vain? Who can blame us for being angry?

I think of all those other families who have lost loved ones.... Loved ones equally treasured.

Many of you, sadly, did not know Denise. I thought it might be a good idea to post some of her blogs so you could get a sense of her personality. She really was beautiful inside and out.

Read her words. She was so beautiful.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The joy of having two boys...

Today I thought it might be fun to take the boys to the mall... by myself. It started off really well. Noah and I ate lunch in the food court while Adam slept. I let Noah go on one of those rides that cost 75 cents. Then we went to Old Navy. Noah started getting a little hyper and wouldn't stay with me so I had to hold him and push the stroller at the same time. At the check out both of them started crying. Adam was hungry so we went back out to the car where I fed Adam ('cause he's breastfeeding) and Noah played in the car rolling the window down. Finally we went back in the mall and I let Noah play in the play area so I could get a chance to just sit. Noah was knocked down twice by older boys running around wild. Of course then Adam needed changing and I couldn't take my eyes off of Noah or else he'd run out of the play area. So I put them both on the changing table and changed both their diapers. Fun fun. Then we went to JCPenny. I was trying on sunglasses when Noah tried to run away. So I had to carry Noah while trying on sunglasses and then Nathan called. Both of the boys start crying once again so I put Noah down and picked up Adam. Noah thought it would be funny to try to run away again. So i caught him while holding Adam and put Noah in the stroller. An old man commented that I must have my hands full and said he checked in the bottom basket of the stroller to make sure I didn't have a third one in there. LOL, can you imagin if I had three? So I finally bought my sunglasses and we went home. Something so simple as going to the mall to buy new sunglasses is a thousand times harder when you have two boys under two. But it was still fun. Anytime I get to leave the house is a treat for me.

We also have a few new pics of the boys. I made a new album of Noah and Adam and there's a couple new ones in Adam's album. Check 'em out.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Our new baby

I realized that I haven't yet posted a blog about Adam and how his birth went. I know Nathan has already told some of you, but I don't know what exactly he said.

So anyway, I went into labor on Saturday the 7th and I didn't even realize it. I was having contractions, but I didn't realize that's what they were until they were 2 minutes apart. So I called the midwife because I started bleeding and she told me to call back when I was having contractions. That's when I realized I was having contractions and I started timing them. I called her back and told her they were 2 minutes apart and she said she usually has her patients labor at home for a few hours when the contractions are that far apart. I told her I would be more comfortable if I went to the hospital and got checked out. Really I just wanted to get an epidural. So we went to the hospital and they checked my cervix and I was only 2 centimeters. I told them that I wanted an epidural and they said that they didn't have my pre-registration so I would have to register first. So now I'm in a LOT of pain and they have to ask me all these stupid questions that I already filled out. I was not happy. Then only about an hour or so later, I feel like I have to push. So she checked me and I'm fully dialated. Too late for the epidural! Oh and the midwife wasn't even at the hospital yet. So I was not allowed to push until she got there. It was the worst feeling in the world. I was crying I was so mad. I was also saying how stupid she was in front of all the nurses. Nathan later told me that he was a little embarased, because I was just saying whatever was on my mind. But she finally got there and I was allowed to start pushing. When my water broke there was meconium in the fluid. I guess that's why they didn't let Nathan cut the cord. But the baby was fine. He weighed 8lb 8.6 oz and was 19 3/4 in. Luckily I had no tearing whatsoever. I felt no pain after he was born. I was just really really exhausted.

Since then Adam has grown a LOT! The last time I took him to the doctor, which was on the 24th, he weighed 9 lb 14 oz. We got a letter from the FL Dept. of Health saying that Adam has the Sickle Cell Trait. My brother Tyler also has the trait. It doesn't really mean anything except that if he has a child with someone elso who carries the trait, then there's a 25 percent chance that their baby will have Sickle Cell Anemia.

We'll keep posting pics for all of you!


Friday, May 11, 2007

I'm so mad!

The deer came back this morning, well I guess it could've been a different one, but this time it had a little baby with it!!! I ran as fast as I could to get our old camera, because I left our new one in the car. I hurry up turn it on, zoom in and click... "Card full." I tried to delete an old pic as fast as I could, but by the time I deleted it they were gone. It was the cutest thing I've ever seen and I was too slow to get a picture. Dammit.