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Kansas aims to strengthen stalking laws with focus on tracking devices

Tracking devices
Posted at 12:00 PM, Feb 20, 2023

TOPEKA, Kan. — The stalking laws in Kansas could soon be getting stronger.

A bill filed this month would make it clear that tracking devices or tracking device data would be added to the stalking criteria.

It would also help protect those who have restraining or protection orders by clarifying the law about tracking devices.

Last May, the KSHB 41 I-Team exposed the outdated laws in Kansas and Missouri when it came to tracking devices.

The I-Team discovered more than 20 other states had laws on the books about those devices, but Kansas and Missouri did not.

The I-Team focused on a Lenexa double murder-suicide from February of 2022. Police said an ex-boyfriend tracked Sara Beck with a GPS device before she and a friend were shot and killed.

KSHB investigator Cameron Taylor caught up with Sara’s father almost a year later.

“As a father, it’s kind of hard not to look inward, look at myself and ask myself, what did I do wrong?,” said Desmond Theel, Sara Beck’s father.

A bill making its way through the Kansas legislature would strengthen stalking laws.

Ed Klumpp, legislative liaison with the Kansas Sheriffs’ Association, helped develop the bill.

“Just like any good thing, bad people will find bad ways to use it and so we’ve got to constantly be on alert for that,” Klumpp said.

Klumpp has heard from law enforcement agencies across the state including Lenexa police.

They tell him they’re having problems with people using tracking devices in domestic violence, stalking and violation of protection order cases.

“This isn’t a Johnson County problem. This isn’t a Sedgwick County problem. It’s a statewide problem and it needs a statewide solution,” Klumpp said.

Chief Dawn Layman, with the Lenexa Police Department, has concerns about tracking devices especially after Sara’s case.

“I’m sad in the fact that our family here in Lenexa and this whole incident that occurred that it had to happen, right?" Layman said. "That law enforcement wasn’t able to do anything sooner in that case to prevent that."

Layman worked with state officials to take steps to strengthen the stalking law.

“I think it’s a really good start, right?” Layman said.

Almost a year ago, the KSHB 41 I-Team revealed at least 23 states and the District of Columbia had addressed privacy concerns when it came to someone tracking another person without them knowing.

It’s now up to at least 26 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Following our investigation, Kansas could soon join the 11 states that ban location tracking in their stalking laws.

Although his daughter’s case may help change state law, Theel hopes for another law that’s even more responsive.

“We have to get it to where people respond immediately and take it seriously because look at what it escalated to,” Theel said.

In Missouri, State Representative Kemp Strickler from Lee’s Summit introduced a bill about this issue.

The bill is a little different than the one introduced in Kansas. It would ban someone from putting a tracking device on someone’s car without the owner's consent.