Rutledge urges congress to pass act giving law enforcement ability to locate cell phones of victims in grave danger

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Says, ‘we want every state to have the tools and resources to keep their loved ones safe’

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge with a bipartisan group of state attorneys general speaks to reporters in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. A bipartisan coalition of 48 states along with Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia said Monday it is investigating whether Google’s search and advertising business is engaged in monopolistic behavior. It follows a Friday announcement of a similar multistate probe targeting Facebook. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is urging Congress to enact the Kelsey Smith Act. The legislation will provide law enforcement officers nationwide with the ability to locate the cell phones of individuals believed to be in serious danger of bodily harm or death.

“We must give our law enforcement the tools they need to keep our communities safe especially when our loved ones are in grave danger,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas and Kansas were both early adopters of the Kelsey Smith Act, which gave law enforcement the rapid response resources to quickly locate victims’ cell phones during an emergency when their lives are at risk.”

Rutledge and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt jointly sent a letter urging the Kelsey Smith Act’s passage to the U. S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Rep. Ron Estes, R-Kan. and would require cell phone providers to turn over geographic location information to law enforcement officers in emergency situations.

Currently, no emergency location requirement exists in federal law, and cell phone providers are free to withhold the information absent a state requirement. Kansas and Arkansas are two of 24 states that have adopted versions of the law at the state level.

The bill draws its title from the case of 18-year-old Kelsey Smith, who was raped and murdered after being abducted in broad daylight outside a big-box retail store in Overland Park in 2007. Law enforcement officials and Smith’s family requested her cell service provider disclose geographic coordinates, but were denied for several days absent a legal requirement to compel the information. Eventually, the provider agreed to turn over the coordinates and law enforcement found Smith’s body within 45 minutes about 20 miles from where she was abducted.

For more information, a copy of the letter can be viewed here.

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