A new Kansas law that went into effect Monday aims to speed up police response to reports of missing people, especially those thought to be in imminent danger.
Under the law, all police agencies in Kansas will take a missing-person report, regardless of how long the person has been missing. The information then will be entered into a computer database used by law enforcement agencies nationwide, The Kansas City Star reported (http://bit.ly/18sHLcy ).
Greg Smith, a Republican state senator from Overland Park, pushed for the new law. His 18-year-old daughter, Kelsey Smith, was reported missing in 2007. Authorities searched for her for four days before finding her body.
"The hope is that this new law will bring more people home and bring them home safe," Smith said at a news conference. Edwin Hall is serving a sentence of life without parole after pleading guilty to murdering Kelsey Smith.
The law also creates the category of "high-risk missing person," which is someone who is missing under circumstances that would lead police to believe he or she is at risk of harm or death. That category includes reports of abductions, people missing more than 30 days or people reported missing under "suspicious or known dangerous circumstances."
Once that high-risk designation is made, information about that person will be disseminated to every police agency in Kansas.
Wyandotte County Sheriff Donald Ash said up to 2,300 people are reported missing each day nationwide. He said in many cases, a missing person's chances of being found safe are enhanced if law enforcement begins investigating immediately, officials said.
"It serves no function to wait 24 hours," Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass said.
Douglass said he didn't think the new law would create an additional burden on police and that it takes only a few minutes to record a report online.
"I'd rather have reports made all day long," said Kansas City, Kan., police Capt. Alexander Kump. "The sooner we can get onto it, the better."