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Missey Smith

2019 Ronald Wilson Reagan Public Policy Award | National Crime Victims’ Service Awards
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Missey Smith | Ronald Wilson Reagan Public Policy Award
The Kelsey Smith Foundation
Overland Park, Kansas

Missey Smith turned her personal tragedy into remarkable public policy achievements following the murder of her daughter Kelsey. Ms. Smith and her husband created the Kelsey Smith Foundation (a.k.a. Kelsey’s Army), which educates parents, law enforcement and various groups on the realities of crime and personal safety, the challenges that children face today, and about Kelsey’s case and the lessons to be learned from it. 

The Smiths have advocated for the Kelsey Smith Act, which provides law enforcement with a way to quickly ascertain the location of a wireless telecommunications device if it’s been determined that a person is at risk of death or serious physical harm due to being kidnapped or missing. Kelsey had been missing for 4 days in 2007 before she was eventually found murdered. During those difficult 4 days, the Smiths, along with law enforcement and the district attorney, asked the cell phone provider to release the location of Kelsey’s phone; however, the provider would not, citing privacy regulations. 

At the time Kelsey was missing, her parents could not understand why there was an issue identifying the location of Kelsey’s phone. They knew this would be the quickest and most accurate way to find their daughter. Once the phone’s location was given to law enforcement, Kelsey’s body was found in approximately 45 minutes. After resolution in their daughter’s murder case, the Smiths met with local legislators to change how cell phone companies must respond to a request when there are exigent circumstances. 

Ms. Smith has selflessly advanced Kelsey’s Law, which has passed in 23 states—testifying before Congress and House and Senate lawmakers in many states. She has met with groups that oppose this legislation to negotiate acceptable terms. The Kelsey Smith Act clearly has the potential to save lives and, in most states, does not cost anything to implement. 

Remarkably, this legislation has been used to recover the body of a murder victim, recover a baby that was in a carjacked vehicle, prevent a suicide, and save a potential drug overdose victim. Thanks to Ms. Smith’s valiant advocacy, this law can save even more lives, resolve more criminal investigations, and give families much-needed answers in unsolved cases.

2019 National Crime Victims' Service Awards Tribute Video

Watch this video to learn more about Missey Smith, 2019 recipient of the Ronald Wilson Reagan Public Policy Award.