After Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins were abducted in July, Robin Arnold was distraught with the way the investigation into the disappearance of the two young girls was conducted.
Arnold, of Cedar Falls, works with young children at a daycare center and in hospice aid. She said the children were not reported missing for hours. The two girls were also not reported as abducted until over a week after they went missing. For Arnold, both of those reports should have been sent in much earlier.
When the girls were considered abducted, Arnold began to write her proposal, which she calls the Cousin's Law. At the meeting, Arnold laid out the five segments of her proposed law. If a child is missing for more than one hour, parents need to report it to the police or there will be a fine. Arnold took this from Caylee's law, imposed in Florida after the death of Casey Anthony's daughter.
Robin Arnold talks to members of the Hamilton County League of Women Voters on Thursday at the fire station. She was motivated to write Cousin’s Law after the abduction of Elizabeth Collins and Lyric cook from Evansdale in July.
"I know that seems like not a very long time, but the thing is, if they report it in an hour and we find them in an hour and fifteen minutes, then they're fine," Arnold said.
The proposed law also calls for the use of a nonprofit group called A Child Is Missing, based out of Florida, which would be activated upon the report of a missing child. That would alert residents and businesses through voicemails and text messages within minutes of their disappearance.
Also, the law calls for voluntary searches of vehicles and area roadway exits. If the child is missing more than three hours, the law would issue an alert via media and interstate marquees in a similar fashion to Amber Alerts.
If missing more than eight hours, the Human Trafficking Task Force will check known hotspots for where children could be taken. A handout at the meeting described the law as a more rapid response to alert the public to the possibility that a child may have been abducted. Arnold said she created the outline for this law because she cares about the safety of Iowa's children.
"I'm just doing what I can," Arnold said. "I have a passion for this law, I have a passion for kids and I'm trying to make a difference."
Arnold has found support from Iowa state senator Jeff Danielson and several others lawmakers in Des Moines. U.S. Representative Bruce Braley has also expressed interest to Arnold about taking the Cousin's Law to the national level. She has also collected thousands of signatures to bring the law to a vote, but Arnold has yet to reach her goal of 10,000 signatures.
An online petition to support the Cousin's Law is available on change.org. For more information, contact Arnold at firstname.lastname@example.org.