Schmidt calls for Congress to make Kelsey Smith Act federal law

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is urging the U.S. Congress to enact the Kelsey Smith Act, legislation to provide law enforcement officers the ability to locate individuals facing death or serious bodily harm in an emergency situation. The Act is based on a case in Kansas.

“A young woman in Johnson County was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered back in 2007,” said Schmidt. “Her parents, admirably, have turned tragedy into positive advocacy and have worked now, for more than a decade to encourage the adoption of what’s come to be known as the Kelsey Smith Act.”

It’s important to note that this isn’t about surveillance, it’s about emergency intervention and it’s already the law in Kansas at the state level.

“It provides by law, that when law enforcement can articulate a reason to believe that the person is at risk of imminent death or serious, bodily injury and that by finding their location through pinging a cell phone, it diminishes the chance that is going to happen, that the phone company has to provide that information.”

The reason it needs to be a federal statute is because some cases cross multiple state lines.

“You can imagine a situation where there is, let’s say, an abduction,” said Schmidt. “It wouldn’t have to be an abduction, but let’s say an abduction in Kansas and some time passes and we don’t know whether the perpetrator and the victim are still in Kansas, whether they’re in a neighboring state, whether they’re two or three states away.”

Twenty-four states have adopted versions of the law at the state level.