WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) along with cosponsors Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) joined Congressman Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) in introducing the bi-cameral Kelsey Smith Act Thursday, ahead of National Missing Children’s Day. This legislation, which has already been signed into law in 22 states, will help law enforcement save lives by requiring wireless communications 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.
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 your phone company, is able to determine if your loved one is in an emergency situation. The privacy of every Kansan and American is extremely 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.
"Kelsey Smith’s tragic abduction sent shockwaves through our community,” said Sen. Moran. “I’m thankful to have worked with the Smith family for a number of years to gain support for the Kelsey Smith Act and to ultimately prevent tragedies like this from happening in the future. 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.”
“This common sense legislation will help save 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 22 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.”
“Today on National Missing Children’s Day, we’re reminded of what happened to Kelsey Smith almost 11 years ago. After Kelsey’s abduction, it took four excruciating days for law enforcement to finally obtain the location data from her cell provider so police could find her. In her memory, I am reintroducing the Kelsey Smith Act in the House to make sure what happened to her never happens again,” said Rep. Yoder. “I want to thank Greg and Missey for their advocacy, and I will continue to advance the Kelsey Smith Act to give law enforcement the tools they need to protect us and to make sure no parent goes through what Greg and Missey Smith endured.”
Smith’s parents, Missey and Greg have fought to successfully pass this legislation in 22 states and are continuing to work to make it federal law. “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.
“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 Captain 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-two 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.”
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