The Premiere Website For Police News In Texas

          
The Most Viewed Police News Website In Texas
 

HOME PAGE

 

ABOUT US

 
 
SUBSCRIBE HERE
 

BUSINESS DIRECTORY

 
ADVERTISNG HERE
 

AMBER ALERTS

 

EVENTS

 

CONTACT US

 

CLASSIFIED ADS

 

EMPLOYMENT

 

NATIONAL NIGHT OUT
2013

 

WE GET LETTERS

 

VISIT OUR SUBSCRIBERS

 

HELPFUL LINKS

 
TEXAS MOST WANTED
 

PHOTO GALLERY

 

RECORDED 
INTERVIEWS

 

ARCHIVES

 

POLICE TO CITIZEN

 

RECOMMENDED
READING

 

SOUND-OFF

 

YOUR WEATHER

 

Texas Law helps police cope with armed mental cases
   
 
More Today's News:
ߦ   Boat fire in Kemah marina spreads to other boats
ߦ   Airplane crashed into airport building in Wichita, Kansas (PHOTOS, VIDEO)
ߦ   EMPLOYMENT - Law Enforcement Positions
ߦ   1st Annual Spring Country Classic Golf Tournament
ߦ   2014 Veterans Day Free Meals and Discounts
ߦ   Bail denied for woman charged in deputy's death
ߦ   BUSTED & CUFFED - Jailhouse Visitors
ߦ   Car burglars don’t take vacation or days off
ߦ   Car crashes and firefights are killing police officers
ߦ   City of Pearland - Hiring Certified Police Officers and Police Cadets
ߦ   Daily Bulletin - Arrests - Galveston County
ߦ   Dead man in Dallas shooting identified
ߦ   DPS Reminds Texans of Safety Tips for Halloween
ߦ   Eleven Men Sentenced to Prison in Connection with International Child Exploitation Enterprise
ߦ   Family Rescued From Overturned Boat Near San Leon
ߦ   Former Ohio State Trooper Pleads Guilty to Violating Civil Rights of Several Female Motorists Through Sexual Activity and Cyber Stalking
ߦ   Fort Worth man accused of sexually assaulting 67-year-old woman, squeezing her to death
ߦ   Glock Donates $30,000 to the DEA Survivors Benefit Fund at the 2014 IACP Conference [PHOTO]
ߦ   Houston’s most wanted gangster … weighs 106 pounds
ߦ   It’s hard to keep caring
ߦ   Marine Dad Banned From School After Complaining About Islam Assignment
ߦ   MS-13 Gang Member Sentenced to Life in Prison for Murder and Attempted Murder
ߦ   Nacogdoches Co. Sheriff's office looking into reports of possible KKK rally
ߦ   Office on Violence Against Women Announces National Tour to Commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act
ߦ   Patrol Report 10/30/2014 - Corpus Christi Police
ߦ   Physician and Others Sentenced in “Pill Mill” Case
ߦ   Police Chief/Emergency Management Coordinator - City of La Marque
ߦ   Reporting Inappropriate Educator-Student Relationships
ߦ   Robbery suspect shot, killed Tuesday night outside grocery store
ߦ   Santa Fe Police Investigating String of Car Burglaries
ߦ   Santa Fe Police Jail Restaurant Robbers [MUG SHOTS]
ߦ   Sheriff's Press Conference at Pole Position Raceway Today
ߦ   TDLR Chairman Leadership Burns Working Texas Families & the Taxpayers of Littlefield, Texas
ߦ   Texas Attorney General's Child Support Division Receives Top Award for Exemplary Performance
ߦ   Texas City Police Seek Shooter in Gun Assault
ߦ   Texas Electronics Business Sentenced for Violating Cash Reporting Requirement
ߦ   Van Zandt County Convicted Felon Sentenced for Federal Firearms Violation
ߦ   Women arrested in Round Rock Dumpster-diving ID theft [WATCH]
ߦ   Youth 13 slashed with knife by 14 year old
ߦ   BUSTED & CUFFED - They're in the jailhouse now
ߦ   Galveston Police Vice & Narcotic Investigation Nets a Methamphetamine Distributor [PHOTOS]
ߦ   MOST WANTED - Galveston County Sheriff [Updated Oct 28]
ߦ   MOST WANTED - Harris County Sheriffs Office (Updated Oct 23]
ߦ   MOST WANTED - Texas City Police Department [Updated Oct 7]
ߦ   Assault With Beer Bottle End College Station Bar Fight
ߦ   Austin police identify fatal shooting victim
ߦ   Chandler police officer dies in Gilbert crash [WATCH]
ߦ   CRIME STOPPERS: Recognize this purse theft suspect?
ߦ   Daily Bulletin - Arrests - Galveston County
ߦ   Eleven Men Sentenced to Prison in Connection with International Child Exploitation Enterprise
ߦ   Fatal Traffic Accident at 19000 Glenwest
ߦ   Fort Bend County Trial Information
ߦ   HPD Invites Citizens to Have "Coffee With a Cop"
ߦ   Investigation into Fatal Stabbing at 8500 Nairn
ߦ   Investigation into Fatal Traffic Accident at 9500 Kempwood

   Next >>
 
Search Archives:
Texas is quietly implementing new regulations that give law enforcement clear authority to seize weapons from those in mental crisis and requires officers to check whether such persons are entitled to get them back.

The law, passed with little fanfare earlier this year and signed by Gov. Rick Perry, went into effect Sept. 1.
 
It requires county probate courts for the first time to inform police or sheriff’s deputies whether the person taken for evaluation was, in fact, ordered into a mental hospital. Under federal law, an individual “adjudicated as a mental defective” or involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility is disqualified from owning or purchasing a firearm.

Encounter uptick

Officers of the Houston Police Department, including Chief Charles A. McClelland, Jr, had lobbied for the law because of an uptick in encounters with individuals in the midst of breakdowns who possessed firearms, said Charlah Woodard, a Houston police officer who is firearms investigator for the department’s mental health division.

Last year, the division handled 47 such cases. So far in 2013, they’ve handled 48 — with more than two months left in the year.

“People go through situations from time to time and we understand that,” Woodard said. “But we want to make sure we keep weapons away from those in crisis. It’s important to do the right thing for these people.”

The law, part of a series of recommendations from the advocacy organization Texas Appleseed for overhauling the Texas mental health code, has widespread support among Texas law enforcement officials.

It is “based on common sense,” San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said in a statement. “It gives police officers tools to prevent people from potentially harming themselves or others.”

Mental health advocates say that while the vast majority of those with mental illness are not violent, possession of a firearm by such a person can have tragic consequences.

“In these cases, efforts must be made to prevent suicides and protect public safety,” said Gregory Hansch, policy coordinator for the Texas branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The law, SB 1189, “establishes sensible rules for the seizing of firearms by police officers from individuals in mental health crisis situations.”

Police in Texas have always been empowered to take weapons from those deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. The new law, sponsored by Sen. Joan Huffman and Rep. Allen Fletcher — both conservative Republicans from the Houston area — codifies that.

More importantly, it sets up a mechanism for authorities to check if the individual in question received court-ordered in-patient psychiatric treatment — which the law establishes as the test for whether police can give the seized weapon back. If the weapon is not returned, the law provides a way for a relative to take possession of the firearm as long as it is kept away from the mental patient.

Before the law, officers had little choice but to accept a person’s word that he or she had not been admitted.

Fletcher, a 23-year veteran of the Houston Police Department who describes himself as “a good Second Amendment guy,” said that as an HPD hostage negotiator he was “personally aware we’d taken weapons off individuals who were checked in to Ben Taub (hospital) for 72 hours, put on meds, and we were required to give the guns back.”

The law is one of many state efforts to avert shooting incidents by mental patients before they happen. Indiana permits officers to seize firearms without a warrant from anyone they deem to be a danger to themselves or others. Connecticut has a similar law, only it requires a warrant.

Legislators, mental health experts and law enforcement officials nationwide consider such laws key to breaking the cycle of mass-shooters who gain access to weapons despite histories of mental illness.

Aaron Alexis, the most recent such shooter who killed 12 at the Washington Navy Yard last month, had a long history of misuse of firearms and had been examined at a VA hospital after telling police he was hearing voices.

In some ways, the Texas law is a practical response to the state’s long, historic love affair with guns. Many other states are equally pro-gun but in the nation’s popular imagination, Texas is in the lead.

“We have a lot of guns in Texas,” said Guy Herman, judge of the Travis County probate court who testified in favor of the law last April. The law, he said, is “a Texas solution for a Texas problem that is not necessarily unique to Texas.”

No opposition

Although it involves government seizing weapons from individuals — an event that might be expected to evoke the ire of the gun-rights world — the law drew no opposition from pro-gun advocates.

“Lawmaking isn’t pretty and for a little while, we had concerns it was going to run amuck,” said Alice Tripp, lobbyist for the Texas State Rifle Association, an affiliate of the National Rifle Association. But ultimately “it was written to help law enforcement, not confiscate firearms. It gives law enforcement emergency authority without overstepping rights to get guns back.”

Neither the NRA nor the Texas State Rifle Association took a position on the law, a fact that went a long way to guarantee controversy-free approval in the legislature.

The state’s gun lobby was “the big gorilla in the room” when the law was under consideration, Herman said. “It’s a victory when they stay neutral.”

Post a comment
Name/Nickname:
(required)
Email Address: (must be a valid address)
(will not be published or shared)
Comments: (plain text only)
Printer Friendly Format  Printer Friendly Format    Send to a Friend  Send to a Friend    RSS Feed  RSS Feed
  Share   Share link on Twitter Tweet  
© 1999-2014 The Police News. All rights reserved.