Hailey's Law takes effect after 5 years of waiting

Published: Aug. 28, 2019 at 3:56 PM CDT
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A number of new laws take effect today in Missouri. One of them, the new Hailey's Law. It has been discussed for almost 5.5 years, and was signed by Governor Mike Parson in July. It officially goes into effect Wednesday.

"Instead of faxes or phone calls, it's going to be a digital electronic process," said Representative Curtis Trent of Springfield.

Message alert boards, social media, over the radio-- starting now, public notification just got better statewide. The new law puts more control at the local level of policing. There now will be no more hand written paperwork, or faxes or scanning, like there was previously. But from a patrol car, officers can radio their office, and as fast as an e-mail sends-- so sends a notification.

Representative Trent helped write the new law.

"Often times a police officer would have to make a phone call, a fax, they'd have to fill out physical paperwork in order to interface with the Amber Alert system, and all those things took time," Rep. Trent said.

Time, that officers say is precious in finding someone who is missing.

The process to get the law passed started shortly after Hailey Owens, 10, was kidnapped and killed in February, 2014, in Springfield.

Witnesses saw her forced from the sidewalk near her home, into Craig Wood's car. Yet the process to notify the public was slow.

Behind the bill, Hailey Owen's dad-- and her convicted kidnapper/killer's dad, Jim Wood..

The passage of the law brings triumph in the process-- that came from tragedy.

"My youngest child is the same age, so just being a parent and knowing a little bit about the situation, it's a little scary to think about and anything we can do to help that system and help things work quicker is obviously a great benefit," said Lt. Tony Vienhage of the Springfield Police Department.

Hailey's Law will also require an oversight committee to meet once a year to discuss possible tweaks that need to be made to the law, as technology advances.