TOPEKA, Kan. – Stalking laws in Kansas may soon get stronger.
A bill introduced this month would clarify that tracking devices or tracking device data would be added to the stalking criteria.
It would also help protect those with restraining or protection orders by clarifying the law on tracking devices.
Last May, the KSHB 41 I-Team exposed outdated laws in Kansas and Missouri when it came to tracking devices.
The I-Team found that more than 20 other states had laws on the books on those devices, but Kansas and Missouri did not.
The I-Team has been focusing on a double murder-suicide by Lenexa since February 2022. Police said an ex-boyfriend tracked Sara Beck with a GPS device before she and a friend were killed.
KSHB investigator Cameron Taylor met Sara’s father almost a year later.
“As a father, it’s kind of hard not to look inward and look at yourself and ask yourself, what did I do wrong?” said Desmond Theel, Sara Beck’s father.
A bill making its way into 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 have to be constantly on the lookout for that,” Klumpp said.
Klumpp has heard from law enforcement agencies across the state, including the Lenexa Police.
They tell him they’re having issues with people using tracking devices in cases of domestic violence, stalking, and protection order violations.
“This is not a Johnson County problem. This is not Sedgwick County’s problem. It’s a statewide problem and it needs a statewide solution,” Klumpp said.
Chief Dawn Layman, of the Lenexa Police Department, has concerns about tracking devices, especially after Sara’s case.
“I’m sad that our family here in Lenexa and this whole incident that happened had to happen, right?” Layman said. .”
Layman has been working with state officials to take steps to strengthen the stalking law.
“I think that’s a really good start, right?” said the layman.
Nearly a year ago, the KSHB 41 I-Team revealed that at least 23 states and the District of Columbia had faced privacy concerns when it came to someone tracking another person without their knowledge.
Now it’s up to at least 26 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
As a result of our investigation, Kansas may soon join the 11 states that prohibit location tracking in their stalking laws.
While her daughter’s case may help change state law, Theel is hoping for another, even more responsive law.
“We need to take it to where people respond immediately and take it seriously because look at what it’s escalated to,” Theel said.
In Missouri, State Representative Kemp Strickler from the Lee summit introduced a bill on this issue.
The bill is slightly different from the one introduced in Kansas. It will prohibit someone from putting a tracking device on someone’s car without the owner’s consent.