OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- A new bill is working its way through the Kansas legislature that would set a 2-hour time limit on how long law enforcement agencies have to file a missing persons report.
Senate Bill 376 was approved Monday by the Senate Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee, which is chaired by state Senator Greg Smith, who wrote the current missing persons law that went into effect in 2013.
Smith’s daughter, 18-year-old Kelsey Smith, was abducted, raped and murdered in 2007. He told FOX 4 Monday that the crime has shaped his goals as he’s working at the state capitol.
“She’s on my mind every day,” he said, “and all the time when I’m in Topeka. I mean that’s my driver, that’s my passion.”
Edwin Hall, 35, is now spending life in prison without parole for the crimes; while Greg is using his family’s tragedy to spark positive change in the Kansas legislature.
“Being a state senator wasn’t on my bucket list,” Greg said. “It wasn’t something that I was looking to do. The whole reason I ran was because of Kelsey.”
His latest passion is a bill that would require state law enforcement agencies to file a missing persons report within two hours of getting basic facts about their identity and disappearance. It’s a move that would speed up current standards, which says reports simply need to be entered “as soon as practical.”
The bill would also make Kansas state law align with a federal missing persons law that was updated in 2014, according to Greg.
“I hope this is something that we can find people faster,” he said, “that law enforcement resources can be directed towards, especially those high-risk missing people that are in danger or possibly in a dangerous situation.”
It’s a change Greg said wouldn’t have helped Kelsey, who was killed shortly after abduction. But he hopes it can help other children in the future.
“As long as I’m up there [in office],” he said, “I’m going to be looking out for those crime victims to make sure that their voice is heard, particularly those that can’t speak for themselves anymore.”
Now that the Senate Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee has passed the bill, it will soon go to the full Senate for debate.