Koch: House passes Kelsey Smith Act

Bill Would Allow Law Enforcement To Better Respond To Emergencies

Posted by: Peter Hoffman  | Monday, January 25, 2016

STATEHOUSE (Jan. 25, 2016) – The Indiana House of Representatives recently voted unanimously to pass State Rep. Eric Koch’s (R-Bedford) bill that would create a legal framework for law enforcement to more quickly obtain geolocation information from wireless telecommunications providers in emergency situations.

House Bill (HB) 1013 is named after Kelsey Smith, a Kansas resident who was kidnapped and murdered in 2007. Despite efforts by local law enforcement, it took Smith’s cell phone provider nearly four days to produce her geolocation – or, “ping” – records to investigators due to privacy laws governing such requests.

"I appreciate the cooperation of our state's telecommunications companies and the support of our law enforcement agencies as we work together to ensure that geolocation technology can be used immediately to locate someone in an emergency,” Koch said. “I want to make sure that what happened to Kelsey Smith doesn’t happen again." 

The bill would require wireless phone companies to respond immediately to law enforcement requests for location information of victims who are in jeopardy of death or serious physical harm. In addition, it would establish procedures for better coordination between law enforcement agencies and wireless cell phone carriers during emergencies involving missing persons.

Indiana would join 20 other states that have already passed legislation similar to the Kelsey Smith Act.

President of the Indiana State Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Tim Downs, said his organization supports the bill.

“In emergency situations, law enforcement must be able to respond quickly to save and protect lives,” Downs said. “Technology provides the tools to help us. House Bill 1013 will enable us to use one of those valuable tools. The FOP wishes to thank Representative Koch for his continued commitment to law enforcement.”

The Kelsey Smith Act will now move on to the Senate for consideration.

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Rep. Koch (R-Bedford) represents all of Brown County, most of Lawrence County and parts of Monroe, Jackson and Johnson counties.