Legislation requiring Missouri’s Amber Alert System Oversight Committee to meet at least annually has been signed into law by Governor Mike Parson.
State Rep. Curtis Trent, R-Springfield, filed “Hailey’s Law” in response to the 2014 kidnapping, rape and killing of ten-year-old Hailey Owens in Springfield. Trent notes the oversight committee hasn’t met since 2015.
“And I think in the case of a very sensitive public safety issue like this there should be at least annual meetings to make sure we’re reviewing the Amber Alert System, that we’re identifying any new technologies,” Trent says.
51-year-old Craig Wood was convicted of first degree murder and has been sentenced to death, for killing Owens. Wood’s father, Jim, testified in April that Hailey’s life could have been saved if the Amber Alert was issued earlier.
Representative Trent tells Missourinet annual meetings will help identify any new procedures that should be used to ensure alerts are issued quickly.
“Because we know the statistics have shown, the data shows, that time is critical when you have a missing person,” says Trent.
The law, which takes effect in August, requires the Amber Alert System to be integrated into the Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System (MULES).
Trent, who was first elected to the Missouri House in 2016, has sponsored the bill for three years. It has the support of both House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, and House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield. The murder happened in Quade’s district.
The bill also allows the oversight committee to include a representative from the outdoor advertising industry. Supporters say digital highway signs can be very effective.
Wood, who’s currently incarcerated in Potosi, is appealing his death sentence. The Missouri Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case in April. The court has not issued an opinion yet.
Jim Wood and Hailey’s father, Markus, testified together during April’s hearing. They sat together in the hearing room. Both men attended Thursday’s bill-signing in Governor Parson’s office in Jefferson City.
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