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House committee scales back penalties for new crime of electronically tracking someone

A bill that makes it a crime in many cases to electronically track someone goes a little less far after changes by a House committee Wednesday.

The committee heard emotional testimony from an Indiana woman whose traumatic experience helped inspire the legislation.

Millie Park got a restraining order against her ex. But he kept showing up at her house. So, she went to a friend’s – he showed up there. Then her daughter’s, where he appeared again.

She finally tried to flee entirely, stopping at a gas station in a different part of town. She was parked at a gas station, trying to book a hotel – when her ex slammed his vehicle into hers.

“And within seconds, he’s in my vehicle, holding me down and I got stabbed three times," Park said. "He tried to make it to where I could not escape. Luckily, I did.”

The original bill, SB 161, made electronically tracking someone a felony. But the House committee made it a misdemeanor, unless the person has prior convictions for crimes such as stalking or domestic violence.

There are exceptions, including family members tracking each other unless they’re under a protective order.

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Kim Ridding wants another exception added, for private investigators. Ridding is a licensed PI who occasionally uses electronic trackers in her work.

She told the committee she could've helped in Millie Park's case.

"That would have been a situation where I most likely would've put a tracker on that gentleman's car, as well as on her own," Ridding said. "And then I would've been able to see that he's following her. And I would've had the data from that tracking device to give to law enforcement to prove it."

The committee did not make that change, with lawmakers expressed concern about the possibility of abusive partners essentially "weaponizing" private investigators, as a way to skirt the new law.

The bill is headed to the House floor.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Copyright 2023 IPB News. To see more, visit .

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.