Kelsey Smith Act aims to help emergency situation responses
By Shayla Jones
INDIANAPOLIS – A bill designed to help law enforcement officers respond quickly during emergency situations is moving to the full House.
The Kelsey Smith Act passed the Courts and Criminal Code Committee Wednesday. The bill would require cellphone providers to immediately give the location of a cellphone when a victim is in a life-threatening situation.
House Bill 1013 is named after an 18-year-old Kansas woman who was abducted and murdered in 2007. Smith’s cell phone provider, Verizon Wireless, took four days to give records to investigators due to privacy laws governing such actions.
“With the Kelsey Smith Act, we can prevent violent crimes from happening in Indiana by requiring wireless phone companies to promptly release location information in emergency situations,” Sen. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, said in a statement. “This is a situation where Kelsey’s tragic story can bring about changes to our system and ultimately save the lives of those who may be in jeopardy.”
The bill also would allow for a faster coordination between law enforcement agencies and wireless cell phone carriers during emergencies involving missing persons.
Indiana State Fraternal Order of Police President, Tim Downs, said the bill provides a valuable and much needed investigative tool.
“In emergency situations, law enforcement must be able to respond quickly to save and protect lives,” Downs said in a statement. “Technology provides the tools to help us. House Bill 1013 will enable us to use one of those valuable tools.”
The Kelsey Smith Act has been introduced in Indiana as well as nine other states. The act has already become law in 20 states.
Shayla Jones is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.