Pa. Senate passes bill to improve missing persons searches - abc27 WHTM

Pa. Senate passes bill to improve missing persons searches

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The Pennsylvania Senate has passed legislation that would require cell phone carriers to quickly aid police in their search for missing people.

Senate Bill 1290 would require wireless providers to locate the cell phone of a missing person when police believe there is a threat of imminent danger.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny/Butler), said while Pennsylvania police can request the location from phone companies, a subpoena is required in most cases.

"In cases where there is a suspected abduction, minutes are precious," Vulakovich said in a statement. "Obtaining a subpoena can take time and often delays law enforcement response to situations involving risk of death or serious injury. This is especially true when dealing with a missing person believed to be a victim of a crime."

Vulakovich's bill, dubbed the "Kelsey Smith Act," is named after an 18-year old Kansas woman who was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered in 2007.

Smith's body was found four days after she was kidnapped from a shopping mall. Her parents say the search would have ended sooner if her cell provider had promptly provided authorities with her phone records.

The bill is awaiting consideration in the state House of Representatives.

Fourteen other states have passed similar legislation.


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