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Courts and Crime

New mental health information reporting rules in Ohio
Safety, all around, is the aim of the new law's sponsors

Tim Rudell
Deputy Suzanne Hopper of the Clark County Sheriff's Department -- died in the line of duty, January 1, 2011
Courtesy of Clark County Sheriff's Department
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In The Region:

Almost exactly three years ago, Suzanne Hopper approached an Airstream trailer near Springfield.  She was a Clark County Deputy Sheriff on a routine call. The door opened and a point-blank shotgun blast killed the 40-year-old mother of four.  She never knew that the man inside the trailer had spent years in a mental hospital after being found not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity in another shooting.  With the start of this year a new state law went into effect that might have changed that.  WKSU’s Tim Rudell reports on “The Hopper Act.”

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New Rules
Judges in Ohio who order mental health evaluations or treatment for individuals accused of violent crimes must now report that to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database.  And law enforcement officers anywhere can access it to better know who and what they’re dealing with.

As a practical matter
Dr. Douglas Smith of the Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board says there’s some concern about the new law further stigmatizing people with mentally illness.  But, he says important strides have been made in the last decade in Crisis Intervention Training -- CIT-- to help police and first responders handle subjects in the field with behavioral issues “As I understand it most areas in Ohio have some CIT and therefore officers who can come into situations with some knowledge and special skills and tactics to go in and keep everybody safe.”

Finalizing the rules
Although the new law passed last spring, the Ohio Supreme Court had to create rules implementing it, and those took effect this week.  

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