New 911 Law Causes Problems at Vernon PD

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Kari’s Law was enacted in the last legislative session to allow people in hotels, motels and other facilities to dial 911 without having to dial an additional ‘9’.

“It was done as a result of a homicide in Marshall, TX sometime back where a woman was killed and her 9-year-old daughter tried to dial 911, but the hotel system, you had to dial ‘9’ first,” Gary Young with the Wichita-Wilbarger 911 District said. “She didn’t know that and was unable to reach 911.”

In towns like Vernon, which houses one of the state’s mental health facilities, this easy access has created a problem.

“I have heard from the city of Vernon that their call load increased directly as a result of this from the Vernon center,” Young said.

According to the Vernon Daily Record, since August, the PD’s emergency dispatch has received close to 350 calls from North Texas Hospital patients.  

Police said many of those calls came were repeat calls from the same person making call after call, reporting delusions.

Regardless of whether the call is legitimate, the department has to respond.

“The way I’ve read the law, they’re bound to follow it,” Young said. “And this is probably one of those unforseen consquences.”

Vernon Police Chief Tom Wilson told the Vernon Daily Record those calls are tying up the emergency call lines, so that people with legitimate emergencies are having to deal with longer response times.

Chief Wilson said he wants state officials to amend the law to ease the burden the dispatchers and officers.
 

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