On Sept. 1, Kari's Law, mandating that all hotels, businesses, and other organizations with multiline phone systems have direct 911 dialing, went into effect.
This law's passage was the result of the brutal stabbing murder of a Texas woman by her estranged husband at a motel while her young daughter unsuccessfully tried to contact 911 operators, but could not access an outside line.
Kari's Law is aimed at providing direct immediate access to emergency services. Children and adults alike have been taught and trained to call 911 dispatchers during emergencies, but can be obstructed by phone systems that require dialing 9 to gain an outside line.
The new law's requirements apply to all businesses, motels and hotels, agencies, organizations and schools. It offers a positive conversation and solution about the need to provide everyone with complete access to 911 emergency services.
Unfortunately, there are still business, agencies, and organizations, including school districts, in the state and also in our area that still have not complied with the provisions of the law.
The transition to full compliance is neither costly or time consuming. Most facilities and institutions have found it to be a relatively easy process working with their phone system providers. Most systems can be reprogrammed at minimal cost and with minimal effort.
The statute does allow a provider to apply for and request a one time year waiver by submitting a notarized affidavit that complies with the law. In order to be granted a waiver, a provider must agree to place an instructional sticker immediately adjacent to each and every telephone that is available and part of the phone system. The sticker must indicate that during this waiver period the phone is unable to directly dial 911, along with provider instructions on how to access 911 emergency services if necessary. The sticker must be printed in at least 16 point boldface type in a contrasting color, using an easily read font.
It is disappointing at the very least, that there remain various businesses, organizations, agencies, and schools that have yet to even comply with the waiver requirements.
There is no excuse for these facilities, institutions and agencies not to follow the law, especially when increasing public safety is involved. Compliance must be soon forthcoming.