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911 Services Legislation Could Increase Your Cell Phone Bill In - KOAM TV 7

911 Services Legislation Could Increase Your Cell Phone Bill In Missouri

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

     New legislation heading to the desk of new Missouri Governor Mike Parson...could provide a boost to 911 centers state wide.
     It could also increase your cell phone bill.
Williams: "The 911 system is our backbone."
Sergeant Tim Williams with the Jasper County Sheriff's Office doesn't say that lightly.
Sgt. Tim Williams, Jasper County Sheriff's Office: "They're our lifeline to talk to, to relay information and to get information back as far as returns off of plates, individuals, warnings from individuals."
Now imagine, if your county, didn't have a 911 dispatch center.
Williams: "It would be almost impossible for us to do our job without having a dispatch center."
For 16 counties in Missouri, they have no 911 dispatch center at all.
April Ford, Jasco 911 Executive Director: "If you call 911 in one of those counties, it goes to a seven digit number or a ten digit number, and it is answered by somebody who just might be at a desk, who, may not have training, but that line is not coming through a dedicated source, as a 911 call, so it's not protected, it's not delivering any information to the person who's answering it."
Thankfully, in our area, we do have fully functional 911 centers.
In Jasper County, they're paid for by a sales tax that voters approved several years ago - which helps fund the center.
The new legislation - House Bill 1456, would add a 911 fee to prepaid phones in the state - making Missouri the last state to do so.
Ford: "Being involved and engaged at what was going on at the state level to pass funding is not just for Jasper County citizens, but it's for every citizen that leaves Jasper County and goes into a neighboring county or somewhere else across the state that may not have the same services that they would normally have here when they're at home." 
The bill would also provide a statewide board to govern 911 centers to ensure each county can work with the other - and that equal standards and expectations are enforced.
     Ford says the plans in the bill will require some perfecting once in place...but is hopeful it will provide enhanced 911 service to all counties in the state.

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Chris Warner
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A Joplin native, Chris first started in broadcasting at age 16 at KSNF-TV in 2004..

Chris joined the KOAM team in 2017 as an Associate Producer. In April, he moved into a full-time reporter position. He spent time from 2008 to 2016 in various retail roles around the region before returning to his passion at KOAM. Chris is excited to continue telling the stories of the four states. Chris and his wife Amber live in Joplin and have three amazing children.

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