Lawmakers propose bill to track missing persons

Minnesota lawmakers are proposing a bill they hope will make it easier to find missing persons.

Rep. Sheldon Johnson of St. Paul will hold a press conference Thursday to discuss a bill that would require cell phone companies to hand over information that shows the whereabouts of a cell phone of a missing person.

“I’m not sure how it could serve as a disadvantage,” said Michael Barrett, associate director of public safety.

When St. Thomas freshman Dan Zamlen went missing last spring, his parents said police couldn’t use his cell phone’s GPS tracking system without a court order. This bill would change that requirement, but some argue this bill violates privacy laws.

“The notion of missing persons is closer to our community than some of the other area colleges,” said Barrett, “but for somebody that doesn’t want to be found, it can be tough to look at that and say whose decision is it?”

Democratic lawmakers will be joined by a couple from Kansas whose daughter’s body was discovered in 2007 after using tracking information from their cell phone provider.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Shane Delaney can be reached at