A Potential Life Saver: Cell Phone Rule Could Help Authorities Find Missing People
Article from the Lorain Morning Journal, By Rick Payerchin
June 18, 2013
[ Gayle Manning Home | Gayle Manning Press ]

A change in Ohio law governing cell phone records could help authorities search for people in trouble, a lawmaker said.

The Ohio Senate yesterday approved Senate Bill 5, which sets rules that would allow law enforcement officers quicker access to cell phone records of people who are believed to be kidnapped or missing and in danger, said State Sen. Gayle Manning.

Obtaining the records quickly could help determine where a person is — and potentially save lives, Manning said.

“This is a simple, bipartisan initiative that gives additional, life-saving tools to law enforcement officials to use in solving abduction cases,” Manning said. “I’m sure many Ohioans would find it shocking to hear that the changes reflected in this legislation are not already in practice in Ohio.”

The new bill is called “Kelsey’s Law” after Kelsey Smith, a Kansas woman who was abducted and murdered in June 2007.

Smith’s mother, Missey, visited an Ohio Senate committee to testify about the law, and her father, Kansas State Sen. Greg Smith, sent written testimony explaining the abduction of their daughter.

Due to legal questions between Smith’s family and her cell phone provider, it took several days for police to obtain her cell phone records. Once they did, her body was found within an hour.

Missey Smith said not knowing the whereabouts of her daughter was “pure hell,” and Manning agreed.

“Time and time again, we continually hear stories in the news about child abductions in which the results are heartbreaking,” Manning said. “By allowing law enforcement to track the victim through their cell phone, we are giving authorities the proper tools to carry out their job in a more efficient manner.”

At least eight other states have passed similar laws, Manning said.

The bill has received support of the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, said Manning, who cosponsored the bill with Sen. Edna Brown, D-Toledo.

She noted the bill also has support of civil rights organizations and it allows police to use cell phone tracking only during certain emergencies. It also protects cell phone providers from lawsuits when they give the proper information to law officers, Manning said.

The bill will go to the Ohio House for deliberations.

Read the original article on the Lorain Morning Journal's website.

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