Koch works to save lives with Kelsey Smith Act

Posted by: Hannah Carlock  | Wednesday, January 13, 2016

STATEHOUSE (Jan. 13, 2016) – The House Committee on Courts and Criminal Code voted unanimously today to pass State Rep. Eric Koch’s (R-Bedford) bill creating a legal framework to help law enforcement officers better respond to emergency situations.

Koch’s proposal 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 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,” Koch said. “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 Kelsey Smith Act, which is law in 20 states, would require wireless phone companies to immediately respond to law enforcement requests for location information of victims who are in jeopardy of death or serious physical harm. In addition, the bill would aid more responsive 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 Koch’s 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. “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.”

After today’s passage out of committee, House Bill 1013 can now be considered by all members of the House of Representatives. 

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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.