Jan 30 2019
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation – today joined U.S. Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) in introducing the Kelsey Smith Act. This legislation will assist law enforcement efforts to save lives by requiring wireless communication providers to provide call location information to law enforcement officials when responding to a call for emergency service or in an emergency situation that involves the risk of death or serious physical harm. Smith’s parents, Missey and Greg, have fought to successfully pass this legislation in 23 states and are continuing to work to make it federal law.
The legislation is named after Kelsey Smith, who was abducted in broad daylight from an Overland Park, Kansas department store and murdered on June 2, 2007. The abduction was captured on the store’s security camera, leaving little doubt of the emergency nature of the circumstances. Four days after she disappeared, authorities were able to locate Kelsey’s body after her wireless provider released the “ping” or “call location” information from her cell phone. Providing this information as fast as possible is critical to ensure law enforcement officials can rescue victims in imminent danger of death or serious harm when every second counts.
It also ensures that a professional law enforcement official in the field, not a phone company, is able to determine if your loved one is in an emergency situation. The privacy of every Kansan and American is important and this legislation strikes the appropriate balance between the ability of law enforcement to help individuals in grave danger, while also ensuring the proper checks are in place to guard against government overreach. Congressman Ron Estes (KS-04) will be introducing a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives in the coming weeks.
“Kelsey Smith’s tragic abduction sent shockwaves that continue to reverberate through our state,” said Sen. Moran. “I am inspired by the Smith family’s resilience and leadership as we work toward gaining additional support for the Kelsey Smith Act. This legislation will make certain first responders have the tools they need to locate children who have been abducted, and I urge my colleagues to support this sensible bill to help save children’s lives.”
“The Kelsey Smith Act is common sense legislation that will help save countless children’s lives by making it easier for law enforcement to find children and loved ones who are abducted,” said Sen. Roberts. “I’ve worked with my colleagues and the Smith family for years to pass this legislation, which is already law in 23 states. Expediting the process of locating a cell phone could have helped save Kelsey’s life, and I hope we can pass this bill to save the lives of other innocent children who are abducted in the future.”
“If your child was missing would you not want law enforcement to have every tool available to find your child? The Kelsey Smith Act provides just that. Losing a child is life changing. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, from Kansas, said it best, ‘there’s no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were,’” said Missey and Greg Smith.
“I am proud to introduce the Kelsey Smith Act in the House of Representatives to honor Kelsey and help law enforcement prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future,” said Rep. Estes. “Since Kansas became the first state in the country to pass this legislation, 22 others have followed our state’s lead. It’s time we have a national Kelsey Smith Act to aid law enforcement and save lives. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and thank Senator Roberts for reintroducing this legislation in the Senate.”
The legislation is supported by law enforcement personnel in Kansas and throughout the country. John Walsh, co-founder of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children also supports the Kelsey Smith Act, and his letter of support can be found here.
“Over my 22 year law enforcement career with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, 17 years have been spent in our dispatch/911 center. During that time, the Kelsey Smith Law has been the single most important piece of legislation related to potentially saving the lives of suicidal subjects, assisting endangered children and addressing life threats when cell phone location is necessary and seconds count,” said Major Scott Boden, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office. “The difference this law has made cannot be overstated and I look forward to the day it becomes available across the country as a resource to assist first responders in their most critical service, saving lives.”
“Twenty three states have passed the Kelsey Smith Act and I can assure you that because of this law, lives have been saved. Time is of the essence in these types of incidents and the narrow exception for law enforcement to act with immediacy is key here. For this not to be federal law seems unjust to those who have loved ones in harm’s way and this type of intervention can and will save lives,” said retired Johnson County Sheriff Frank Denning.
“Both Kansas and Missouri have had Kelsey’s Law in place for years, and there have been success stories that illustrate it has helped public safety agencies locate wireless headsets in emergency situations,” said Eric Winebrenner, Director of Public Safety at Mid-America Regional Council. “The proposed Kelsey Smith Act would extend this benefit to all public safety answering points across the nation, which could save countless lives.”
“In Tennessee, we have had the privilege to have Kelsey’s Law enacted for several years. There are multiple examples of how utilizing this law to locate the wireless device has resulted in lives being saved that otherwise would have been lost. This law enables the men and women that have dedicated their lives to the protection of others to ensure they are able to do everything possible to locate someone that needs help. The benefits of this law being passed across the nation will be far reaching and countless lives will be saved,” said Jennifer (Estes) Lanter, Loudon County 911 Director.
The legislation is also supported by CTIA – The Wireless Association, Sprint, the National District Attorneys Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major County Sheriffs of America, the National Association of Police Organizers, the Fraternal Order of Police and the National Sheriffs’ Association.
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