Diverting 911 Funds

Cash-strapped states raid 911 funds

More than $200 million collected from cell phone users for upgrades to the 911 system has been diverted in the last two years to plug state budget holes, keep campaign promises and, in at least one case, buy police uniforms, an Associated Press analysis has found.

Never, ever rely only on the authorities to keep you safe or help you when you need it. Especially if anyone in power has campaign promises to keep.

Oregon, Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Wisconsin and Tennessee are among the states that have dipped into their 911 money recently. New York and Rhode Island have been diverting their funds for at least five years. States started collecting the funds in the 1990s.

In the fiscal year that ended in June 2008, Rhode Island collected $19.4 million in 911 fees and used $5.8 million for 911. The rest went to the state’s general fund.

If only politicians would make campaign promises to upgrade the 911 system, they could raid the 911 upgrade funds to keep their promise to upgrade the 911 system.