Magnarelli: Wireless 911 Improvements Will Save Lives

Assembly passes crucial legislation to locate wireless callers in distress

Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli (D-Syracuse/Geddes) today announced the Assembly passed legislation to help localities make life-saving improvements to local 911 systems – enabling local emergency dispatch centers to pinpoint emergency calls from wireless phones (A.3911).

The Wireless 911 Local Incentive Funding Enhancement – or LIFE – program will end unnecessary delays in 911 enhancements by providing funding directly to local emergency dispatch centers. The legislation will help localities, which currently handle their own wireless 911 calls, to finance the equipment they need. The program expedites actions taken by the Assembly in 2002, which set aside $20 million in surcharges to help localities fund the system’s implementation.

“In January, four teenage boys disappeared in a sinking boat on Long Island Sound after one of them desperately tried to describe their location to 911 dispatchers,” Magnarelli said. “Technology that could have pinpointed the location of their wireless call does exist, but the state’s emergency dispatch centers haven’t received the money they need to put it in place.”

Since 1991, New York cell phone users have paid more than $200 million in surcharges which were enacted specifically to establish a statewide 911 emergency telephone communications system. However, the money has never gone to its intended purpose. Wireless customers currently pay between $1.20 and $1.50 in surcharges on top of their monthly bill.

“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,” Magnarelli said. “I urge the Senate and governor to follow the Assembly in enacting this vital legislation before another tragedy occurs.”

This legislation is part of Magnarelli’s continued efforts to protect Central New York families. Previously, Magnarelli coordinated the effort to create the Onondaga County Abduction Alert Plan, or Amber Plan, and also fought to bring this highly effective missing child program statewide.