The Missouri House Committee on Crime Prevention and Public Safety heard heartfelt testimony in support of HB 185, also known as Hailey's Law.
The legislation, introduced by Rep. Curtis Trent (R-Springfield), aims to improve Missouri's AMBER Alert system by making it easier for police officers to issue alerts and requiring the AMBER Alert Oversight Committee to meet annually.
"While my son’s tragic decisions are ultimately responsible for what happened to Hailey Owens, I know that if an effective AMBER Alert system had been in place, I would have recognized Craig’s license plate and could have intervened to possibly save Hailey’s precious life," said Jim Wood, father of the man convicted of murdering Hailey Owens in 2014.
Since 2017, Wood has been a vocal proponent of the bill, which has advanced further through the legislative process each year that it has been introduced.
"I have to applaud Rep. Trent's commitment to streamlining Missouri's AMBER Alert system," said Marcus Owens, brother of the late Hailey Owens, who inspired Trent’s bill. “We need to pass Hailey's Law to make sure government stays up to date with the latest alert technologies.”
In addition to using his voice to support Hailey's Law, Owens is working with Mikol Skaggs, a Deputy Sheriff from Dent County, to get out the word about HAILEY'S App (Honing Alerts Issued by Law Enforcement for Youth Safety Application). Skaggs developed the free, web-based app to help law enforcement officials share pictures of missing kids with the public and assign pertinent search routes when AMBER Alerts are issued.
“We've seen meaningful advances in the capabilities of our country's Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system over the last few years,” said Skaggs. “Unfortunately, these advances haven't yet been utilized to improve AMBER alerts, which are issued through the WEA system.”
For instance, he points out that Nationwide wireless providers are now required to support embedded links in Wireless Emergency Alerts, which the Federal Communications Commission acknowledges could “allow the public to click on a url to see a photo of a missing child,” or to be assigned a search route during AMBER Alerts. The feature has not yet been integrated into Missouri’s AMBER Alert system.
According to Skaggs, by requiring the AMBER Alert oversight committee to meet annually, Hailey's Law will help ensure that technological advances are leveraged to improve the state's AMBER Alert system.
For more information, visit http://www.haileysapp.com.