SWMO lawmaker looks to address cyber-stalking

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JOPLIN, Mo. — A former Joplin Police Chief wants to crack down on cyber stalking.

And now that he’s a state lawmaker, he’s hoping to see that happen. House Bill 292 would address a whole new generation of ways stalkers can keep tabs on and threaten a victim. The focus is digital devices and how they can be used.

MO State Rep. Lane Roberts, R, said, “I can remember many, many times having to look a woman in the eye and explain to her why we couldn’t protect her because the law simply didn’t cover that.”

And now that former Joplin Police Chief Lane Roberts is a state representative, he wants to change that.

“Trying to fill in those gaps in the law that exist today that put women at risk.”

Roberts retired from JPD nearly seven years ago. And he says since then, it’s only gotten worse.

“Things like technology, Facebook, cell technology, tracking devices. There are so many things that people can access now and abuse for the purpose of stalking that didn’t exist. And our state law doesn’t really cover it.”

Something House Bill 292 would change.

It would cover intimidation using cell phones, GPS, and cameras, as well as using a third parties to threaten a victim.

“I don’t know that most individuals unless they’ve been the victim of stalking – have any idea of what it means to live under that constant threat. It’s simply not fair and for the first time in my life I’m in a position to do something about it.”

Currently, a Missouri order of protection only applies to physically tracking a victim or unwanted communication. The house committee on crime prevention has taken testimony on the bill but it hasn’t yet come to a vote.

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