The Deputy Suzanne Hopper Act to better inform law enforcement officers of suspects’ past mental illness is on its way to Gov. John Kasich, who has indicated he will sign the bill.
The Ohio House on Wednesday unanimously passed the bill, named after the Clark County sheriff’s deputy killed in the line of duty in January 2011 by Michael Ferryman at the Enon Beach Campground.
The bill requires courts to report to law enforcement when people ordered for mental illness evaluation or treatment are found guilty or convicted of a violent crime. Courts also would have to report information to local law enforcement in the instance of the conditional release of a person found incompetent to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity.
Local law enforcement agencies would then enter that information into a database easily accessible by officers before confronting potentially dangerous persons.
Ferryman, 53, had been found not guilty by reason of insanity for an incident 10 years prior in which he fired at police officers. Ferryman was granted conditional release from a mental health institution, but Hopper and other officers did not know that when they arrived on the scene.
The bill was sponsored by Republican Senators Chris Widener of Springfield and Bill Beagle of Tipp City. It passed the Senate 32-1 in March.
“This legislation is the result of turning a tragedy into something good that will have lasting impact,” said Rep. Ross McGregor, R-Springfield. “We have taken the lessons learned from Deputy Hopper’s situation, in Clark County, and applied them in a way that will protect law enforcement officers across Ohio.”
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