Mental health law pleases Sheriff Dupnik - Tucson News Now

Mental health law pleases Sheriff Dupnik

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The debate over the lack of mental health law in Arizona reached a fever pitch following the shooting on January 8, 2011 in which six people died.

Jared Loughner was diagnosed as mentally ill will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

For many there were signs of mental illness prior to the shooting but little could be done for several reasons.

First and foremost because in order for him to be taken into custody for a psychiatric evaluation, he needed to be caught in the act.

State law, HB2105 has changed that.

Passed by the House by a 60-0 vote, the Senate by 30-0 and signed by the Governor, the law allows police to take a person into custody based in the professional recommendations of others.

"Absolutely there has to be probable cause," says District 9 Republican Ethan Orr, who helped with several mental health bills. "Without probable cause none of this happens,"

Orr says the bill allows police to use their powers of deduction and "not just direct observation."

"I think everybody recognizes that when somebody is significantly mentally I'll, something needs to be done," says Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out."

Dupnik has not started training his officers on how to use the law yet but will soon.

Right now, the department is working with the County Attorney's Office to determine how to implement the law and what precautions they will have to take.

The concern is over civil rights and civil liberties of the public,

But so far Dupnik says the response has been quiet.

"Not one person testified against this bill, not one," he says. "Not one group, not anybody."

Dupnik became the target of many local and national groups following the January 8, 2011 shooting tragedy which left his friend Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords mentally scarred for life.

He was criticized and in some parts demonized for his stance.

He says he does not see this law as vindication but he says "right now I'm told that Jared Loughner is as normal as you and I."

He says that's because he's being treated and on medication.

"If they could have gotten him on medication earlier, maybe January 8th would never have happened," he says.

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