TOPEKA, Kan. — A retired police chief gave testimony in opposition of Adrian's Law during a hearing on Monday in Topeka.
Ed Klumpp, who is retired from the Topeka Police Department, said the portion of Adrian's Law that requires police visibly see a child during an investigation into child abuse is "too restrictive."
Klumpp said law enforcement heavily relies on outside agencies such as child advocacy centers that have staff who are trained in speaking with children who may be victims of abuse.
"It is clearly good investigative process to make physical contact with our victims of of violent crimes, especially children where we can and where it’s practical, there’s no doubt about that," Klumpp said. "It (Adrian's Law) requires contact in every single case without exception and that's where we have a concern."
State Rep. Louis Ruiz reintroduced Adrian's Law in February. The bill was initially introduced in May 2017, but year after year it has failed to be signed into law.
The bill is named after Adrian Jones, 7, who was tortured and killed by his dad and stepmom at their home in Wyandotte County.
Adrian's death made national headlines after his remains were found in a livestock pen.
The I-Team fought the state of Kansas and Missouri for Adrian's records for two years, which eventually revealed social workers in both states documented Adrian's abuse for years. Police, doctors and mental health professionals also documented the abuse. Still, no one removed Adrian from the unsafe home he lived in.
Adrian's Law would require that the investigating agency visibly see a child in need, as opposed to knocking and leaving if no one answers the door. That would apply to the Kansas Department For Children and Families and to police.
The law would also require adults to report abuse if they're aware of it or face criminal charges.
Klumpp said police should not be held liable under this portion of Adrian's Law.
However, Rep. Vic Miller, who listened to Klumpp's testimony, disagrees.
"I see the problem that right now, it’s too easy to pass the buck," Miller said to Klumpp during the hearing. "As I recall, the Adrian Jones case, that was one of the big problems was that Missouri and Kansas officials were bouncing responsibility back and forth and no one was taking responsibility."
Miller worked as a municipal judge in Topeka and is familiar with Adrian's case. The I-Team spoke with Miller after the hearing about Klumpp's testimony.
"I didn’t hear anything compelling about his testimony," Miller said. "If there are examples of why it would not be required to lay eyes on the alleged victims of abuse, I didn’t hear any good ones given."
During testimony, Adrian's grandmother Judy Conway urged lawmakers to act.
"I think it’s imperative that Adrian’s Law is passed to put an extra layer of protection for our children," Conway said. "I hope and I pray that this is the year it finally gets passed."
Conway is frustrated with how long it's taken for the bill to be enacted in her grandson's name. She said she was surprised to see police opposing the law this year.
"It just doesn’t sit right with me," Conway said. "It’s been such a long time and it’s been just excuse after excuse and I think it’s time for something to happen."
The Kansas Department for Children and Families also approved of the bill during Tuesday's hearing.
Ruiz said he plans to meet with Klumpp to try and reach an agreement that would make the bill more palatable to police but said he can't promise anything.
"We may not be able to," Ruiz said. "Something needs to be done. We’ve worked on this for a long, long time. This is the year we’re gonna get it done."