The Arizona House Committee on Public Safety, Military, and Regulatory Affairs yesterday unanimously passed a bill that makes key changes for involuntary commitment of potentially violent people with mental illness by police officers.
According to an AP report in today's AZ Capitol Times, Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) wrote the bill after reviewing current state involuntary commitment law following several recent mass shootings around the country.
HB 2158 would allow police to detain a mentally ill person believed to be a danger to others based on probable cause, including statements from witnesses. Under current law, officers can only detain people for mental health evaluation based on behaviors only they have personally observed on the scene.
Mentally ill people "often calm down when a police officer shows up," Kavanagh told AP.
The provision extends only to police, and not to others who can petition a court for an involuntary commitment, which includes relatives or friends of the person, an admitting officer or other "responsible person," a term that is not defined in proposed or current law.
The bill also extends the time period that a person can be detained for an emergency psychiatric evaluation from 24 to 48 hours. Individuals could still be released at any time before the 48 hours are up. Those who sign voluntary applications for admission to a treatment facility may stay for longer periods of time.
You can review the bill at the state Legislative website (click on "Bills").