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home : most recent : statewide implications August 23, 2017

3/13/2017 6:55:00 PM
State lawmakers mull emergency contact database to allow for quicker notifications

Mitchell Kirk, Pharos-Tribune Staff Writer

A local law enforcement official thinks a statewide database lawmakers are considering legislation for may allow emergency contacts of crash victims to be reached quicker.

Authored by Rep. Tony Cook, R-Cicero, the bill would require the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles to create and operate a database of emergency contact persons for those the BMV issues credentials to. Law enforcement officers would be able to access that database when responding to motor vehicle crashes resulting in death or serious bodily injury, according to the bill.

Cass County Sheriff Randy Pryor said when responding to crashes resulting in death or serious bodily injury, he and his staff currently attempt to find emergency contact information via victims' belongings. Sometimes they're familiar with victims and already know how to contact relatives, he added. When a crash results in death, he said the sheriff's department always strives to notify family in person.

"It very well could help us out in the notification of loved ones of people that are injured and killed in crashes," Pryor said of the proposed database.

"Could it speed things up? It could, but I think as the Cass County Sheriff's Department we do a fairly decent job of getting in touch with people as quick as we can."

The Indiana House of Representatives passed the bill on to the Senate with 93 members voting in favor, zero opposed, two excused and five not voting.

Indiana Rep. Don Lehe, R-Brookston, who represents parts of Cass, Carroll, Clinton, Tippecanoe and White counties, called the intent of the bill "commendable."

"It sounds like a good idea if it can be implemented and if it gets through the whole process I think it might be a good thing to have," he said.

The bill states no more than two emergency contact persons would be listed in the database for each credential holder and that the database would be confidential and exempt from public inspection. The database would be operational by July 1, 2019, according to the bill.

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