New Texas 9-1-1 law affects businesses

"Kari's Law" requires businesses to provide a direct dial to 9-1-1 dispatchers.

BEAUMONT - Time is critical here in the Beaumont 9-1-1 Emergency Center. And it's especially critical for many who make the calls.

But a new law called "Kari's Law" now in effect requires that all businesses have a direct dial to the 9-1-1 emergency line, instead of dialing an extra "9" at the beginning.

Seargeant Shawn Tolley, the 9-1-1 Operations Center Supervisor for the Beaumont Police Department says this law will help in critical times.

"If you're in a place where you have to dial a code before you can dial 9-1-1, that's obviously going to delay you getting through, possibly keep you from getting through," Tolley said.

The push for "Kari's Law" started after Allen Dunn stabbed his wife, Kari Hunt to death in 2013 in a Marshall, Texas hotel room.

Kari's nine year old daughter tried to call 9-1-1 but didn't know she had to dial 9 to reach an outside line.

Kelli Merriweather with the Commission on State Emergency Communications says businesses can ask for a one-year waiver at if you are a business owner and can't reprogram your phone system by the September 1st midnight deadline. 

"So there needs to be a sticker nearby or on the phone telling callers what to do if you file for a waiver," she said.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed "Kari's Law" in 2015, but there is no enforcement or fines if businesses don't comply.

If a phone system is old, the change could be costly. But Sargeant Tolley says it could be lifesaving.

"Not having to go dial 9-1-1 unless you're in a hotel, and then you go dial 9, is going to ensure people have an easier time getting to us," Sargeant Tolley said.

(© 2016 KBMT)


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