New requirement for organizations to provide direct phone access to 911


ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Today, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball launched a public awareness campaign for Kari’s Law. Ball introduced legislation in November 2020 to the Howard County Council, leading the state in implementing the law on the local level. The law was named for Kari Hunt, who was killed in 2013 by her estranged husband in a motel room in Texas. Her 9-year-old daughter attempted to dial 911 during the attack, but the motel phone required “9” to be dialed to reach any outside line, so the emergency call never went through. This event launched Kari’s Law, which requires all organizations or businesses that use a MLTS to provide direct access to 911. Photos of the event can be found here.

The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) and the Howard County Police Department (HCPD) will collaborate to educate businesses on Kari’s Law, a requirement for organizations that use a multi-line telephone system (MLTS) to provide direct access to 911. 

Support and education for businesses is a critical component to ensure that Kari’s Law is put into action. We’re grateful to our Police and Fire and Rescue Departments for their collaboration and initiative to make sure businesses and organizations are compliant and our residents and community have this vital access to 911.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

In 2020, the Howard County Council passed Bill 59, an act requiring that all MLTS allow for the direct dialing of 911. Many telephone systems for hospitals, hotels, motels, schools, and businesses require that users dial an additional number to obtain an outside line. Anyone who is unfamiliar with such a telephone system will be unable to reach emergency services during a crisis. 

“It is critical that the dispatchers in our 911 Center receive every emergency call, every time,” said Police Chief Lisa Myers. “With full implementation of Kari’s Law, our residents and visitors should have the reassurance of knowing that their calls to police or fire personnel from any location in Howard County will be heard and will generate a quick response.”

“Our goal is to ensure that anyone who needs emergency services has immediate and direct access to the 911 system,” said Fire Chief William Anuszewski. “While this may be new to some businesses, our code enforcement team will provide the education needed to prepare them for future inspections.” 

Beginning in April 2021, the HCDFRS Office of the Fire Marshal will disseminate Kari’s Law flyers to educate businesses visited during regular scheduled inspections. If businesses are not in compliance after the initial year of education, a fine of $100 will be issued and $200 for every day not in compliance that follows.

For more information on Kari’s Law please call or visit:  

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