Rep. Estes Introduces Kelsey Smith Act
WASHINGTON—Congressman Ron Estes (R-Kansas) introduced the Kelsey Smith Act in the U.S. House of Representatives this week as the lead sponsor of the legislation. Congresswoman Sharice Davids (D-Kansas) is cosponsoring the bill while Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) is the lead sponsor of a companion bill in the U.S. Senate.
"I am proud to introduce the Kelsey Smith Act in the House of Representatives to honor Kelsey and help law enforcement prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future,” said Rep. Estes. “Since Kansas became the first state in the country to pass this legislation, 22 others have followed our state’s lead. It’s time we have a national Kelsey Smith Act to aid law enforcement and save lives. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and thank Senator Roberts for reintroducing this legislation in the Senate.”
The Kelsey Smith Act requires wireless communication providers to provide call location information to law enforcement officials when responding to a call for emergency service or when in an emergency situation that involves the imminent risk of death or serious physical harm. To protect privacy rights while allowing law enforcement to save lives, the bill ensures that law enforcement officials can determine if an emergency exists that requires cellphone location information. Similar legislation has already been signed into law in 23 states, including Kansas and Missouri.
The bill is named after Kelsey Smith, who was abducted from a department store in Overland Park, Kansas, and murdered on June 2, 2007. Although the abduction was captured on a security camera leaving little doubt of the emergency nature of the circumstances, Kelsey's body was unable to be located until four days after she disappeared when her wireless provider released location information from her cellphone to law enforcement.
“If your child was missing would you not want law enforcement to have every tool available to find your child? The Kelsey Smith Act provides just that. Losing a child is life changing. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, from Kansas, said it best, ‘there’s no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were,’” said Missey and Greg Smith, parents of the late Kelsey Smith.
“Our bill provides a framework that allows law enforcement swift access to data from cell providers when there is an emergency. To date, 23 states have already enacted the Kelsey Smith Act thanks to the hard work of her parents, Greg and Missey Smith. We need to ensure law enforcement in all states can use this proven lifesaver. Law enforcement may have been able to save Kelsey’s life if this law was in place when she was abducted,” said Sen. Roberts. “If your child was abducted, wouldn’t you want law enforcement to do everything possible to save their life and bring them home?”
“The Kelsey Smith Act would ensure that law enforcement nationwide have a vital tool to help save lives and keep our children safe,” said Rep. Davids. “It honors Overland Park resident Kelsey Smith, whose life was tragically cut short, and the hard work of her parents ever since to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening to any more families. Protecting our families is not a partisan issue, and I’m proud to partner with Rep. Estes and Sen. Roberts to ensure the safety of our communities.”
Ron Estes is a 5th generation Kansan and represents Kansas’ 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means.