INDIANAPOLIS — “I started calling this bill affectionately, Millie’s Law,” said State Senator Michael Crider addressing fellow Senators Tuesday.
Crider is the primary sponsor of a bill that would outlaw the secret planting of tracking devices to stalk someone. Right now, doing exactly that is not a crime in Indiana.
Millie Parke knows that maybe better than anybody.
In May of 2021, Parke fled her stalking and abusive, ex-boyfriend. She left Indianapolis driving east, hoping to find a hotel where she could lie low for a few days.
The ex-boyfriend, Ronnie McClure, was just minutes behind her. What Parke didn’t know was that McClure had placed a GPS device inside her car. He knew exactly where she was 24/7.
With that information, McClure hunted Parke down and nearly stabbed her to death in the parking lot of a Greenfield gas station.
Stories about Parke’s ordeal got the attention of state lawmakers.
Three State Senate bills were drafted to make stalking with tracking devices illegal. The legislation that moved forward was Senate Bill 161, sponsored by Crider.
Co-sponsor State Senator Aaron Freeman says the trick in putting the bill together was balancing legitimate uses of tracking technology with the misuse of it like in the case of Parke.
“I wanted to pair this with the stalking statute which is a serious crime. It starts at a Level 6 Felony and can go to a Level 5 Felony if a person has a prior history of this,” explained Freeman.
The final form of the legislation makes “Unlawful Use of a Tracking Device” a felony, punishable by up to 6 years in prison. If the tracking device assisted in the commission of another crime… up to an additional 6 years can be added to the defendant’s sentence.
There are exemptions to the proposed law. It would not apply to law enforcement, people who are incarcerated, devices placed on personal property, and the automotive industry.
Also exempted are ‘family members’, defined as spouses, children and grandchildren regardless of age.
The family member exception did not sit well with all senators.
“The problem is the exemption in the bill right now for family members is broad,” said State Senator Liz Brown.
State Senator Greg Taylor added, “When we try to seek out remedies to these types of problems that happen in our community, one of the problems is we actually create more problems.”
The difference in opinion did not translate into dissenting votes. The bill passed, 49-0.
The proposed “Millie’s Law” now moves on to the Indiana House. Freeman said he believes there is a very good chance the bill will pass there, too.