New Arizona law may help mentally ill
Now isn't that title an oxymoron!!!!
If anything this law will only help the police terrorize and abuse mentally ill, and perfectly sane people the government accuses of being mentally by giving the police another unconstitutional excuse to jail them.
Currently in Arizona the government can jail, or lock a person in a mental institution when two other people accuse the person of being crazy, and a judge agrees with them.
New Arizona law may help mentally ill
Megan Cassidy, The Republic | azcentral.com 11:42 p.m. MST April 26, 2014
Arizona officers can now use the accounts of others as cause to detain people exhibiting dangerous behavior due to a mental illness, giving police the same discretion they have with suspects accused of a crime.
Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday signed legislation that had been championed by both mental-health advocates and law enforcement and will go into effect immediately.
Prior to the passage of House Bill 2105, officers were required to personally observe statements or behavior of those believed to have a mental illness who pose a threat to themselves or others in order to take them into custody if they had not committed a crime.
Officers now have the authority to take witness statements into account when making that determination. The standard, known as probable cause, is the same required for an arrest.
The law will help more people receive the treatment they need and possibly prevent tragedies, said Emily Jenkins, president and CEO of the Arizona Council of Human Service Providers.
"It is important that (officers) be able to treat this situation," Jenkins said. "They can use their professional judgment as to whether the witness complaining about the behavior is credible."
People taken into custody for a mental-health crisis are transported to an emergency psychiatric facility rather than jail and are stabilized and referred for treatment. If a doctor determines the person is not a threat to himself or others, the person is released.
Lyle Mann, executive director for the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, endorsed the bill as well. Mann said its genesis stemmed in part from an Ahwatukee suicide. Mann said the incident occurred after the man's wife contacted law enforcement, who were unable to take the man into custody because they didn't observe dangerous behavior.
"No matter what she had said, they didn't have the ability to use her observations," Mann said.
The bill was sponsored by Arizona Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, who testified on its behalf in January before the House Committee on Public Safety Military and Regulatory Affairs.
Kavanagh said police contact with those who are seriously mentally ill often elicits a "uniform reaction," a phenomenon where a person is conditioned to immediately settle down based on previous experiences with law enforcement.
Kavanagh drew from his experience as a police officer at the Port Authority bus terminal in Times Square for personal underpinnings to his case. Kavanagh said he frequently dealt with homeless people, many of whom had mental illnesses.
"By the time I got there, the person had calmed down and wasn't dangerous, but they did have serious problems," he said at the hearing. "They were a danger to themselves or others. … It was a public-safety issue."
None of those who testified at the committee opposed the bill, but Kavanagh said some lawmakers had initial reservations on the basis that someone with a grudge could presumably have the power to put a rational individual into psychiatric custody.
"But the concerns dissolved after they learned about the judicial safeguards in place," he said.
Dr. Robert Williamson, who is a psychiatrist at the Urgent Psychiatric Care Center in downtown Phoenix, said the center is consistently at capacity for its crisis services. The center treats about 2,000 patients a month, 850 of whom are brought in involuntarily by police.
Williamson said he believes the previous law was too restrictive.
"I think it's definitely a good update to the mental-health code," he said.