Saturday, July 15, 2006

It's hard to meet potential dates these days. At least that's what I'm told - I've been out of that market for over 23 years. Anyhow, you've got to feel for poor Lorna Jeanne Dudash. She's the woman from Aloha, Oregon, who called 911 requesting the name of the "cutie pie" deputy who had just been at her door checking on a noise complaint from one of her neighbors.

"He's the cutest cop I've seen in a long time. I just want to know his name," Dudash told the dispatcher. "Heck, it doesn't come very often a good man comes to your doorstep." "Honey, I'm just going to be honest with you, OK? I just thought he was cute. I'm 45 years old and I'd just like to meet him again, but I don't know how to go about doing that without calling 911," she said. "I know this is absolutely not in any way, shape or form an emergency, but if you would give the officer my phone number and ask him to come back, would you mind?"

The deputy returned, verified that there was no emergency and arrested her for misusing the 911 system, an offense punishable by a fine of up to several thousand dollars and a year in jail.

Now sure, the deputy might not have been interested, but with a little business training the Washington County 911 coordinator could have identified this as an opportunity to bring some additional revenue into the department. I'm talking about a 911 Profit Center. Think about it - how do we support 911? Through taxes. Through telephone surcharges. And they're always going up. But the Republicans are in charge now, about User Fees? Just call 911. If it's an emergency, no problem. If it's not an emergency, Ka-Ching!

Situation: Lorna Dudash wants a date with a cutie pie deputy. Whether she gets the date or not, there's a charge for the call. Even if it's just $10 a pop, the call center could rake in the cash. And you could let market forces prevail - if they started getting so many calls that emergencies couldn't be responded to, the call center could make a business decision to either hire additional staff for busy call periods, or simply up their charges.

So, when you call 911, you could hear - "Is this an emergency not? No? Then will you be paying by Visa, Mastercard, or will you be adding this to your phone bill?"

I'm hoping that this catches on in Oregon, because they'll never go for it here in Pennsylvania, where change happens every hundred years or so. And we had one recently - selected liquor stores are now allowed to open on Sundays.


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