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Government and Politics

State representative proposes a police database of mentally ill people
Republican Bill Beagle from Miami County says it would protect both officers informed and mentally ill people

Jo Ingles
In The Region:

An Ohio lawmaker wants to pass a bill that would give police officers information about mentally ill people who’ve committed criminal offenses. In an interview with Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles, Republican State Rep. Bill Beagle from Miami County explains what his bill would do.

Ingles' Q and A with Bill Beagle

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“The purpose is one of protection. Specifically our goal is to protect our peace officers who are entering a situation," says Beagle. He maintains that police officers who are informed when someone has a history of violence or has been recently released by the court may approach a situation differently. "They are just armed with more information.”

Beagle says that's important for an officers protection, but adds "it could benefit the suspect as well. You might approach the situation differently if you know the behavior is being caused by mental illness as opposed to something else. So it just leads to better outcomes for everybody.”

Beagle says he's not sure just what mental illnesses would be tracked by the state police computer system. In general, he says, "whenever the court deems it necessary that the person receives mental health treatment or is unable to stand trial for mental health reasons,that’s the type of thing that would trigger this to be put into the LEEDS system.”

The LEEDS system is not available to the general public, and Beagle says that's an important privacy protection for people with mental illness.  His bill is named after late Clark County Deputy Suzanne Hopper, who was killed in the line of duty by a man who was under court-ordered care. He had been found not guilty by reason of insanity after an armed standoff with officers a decade before he shot and killed deputy Hopper.

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