House bill makes mental health detentions easier

PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona House committee has given initial approval to a bill making it easier for police officers to detain people believed to be a danger to themselves or others because of a mental issue.

Republican Rep. John Kavanagh says he filed the bill after reviewing current state laws following mass shootings across the nation.

Arizona law now requires an officer to directly observe someone displaying behavior indicating they're having a severe mental issue before they can detain them for a hospital evaluation.

Kavanagh says that's a problem because the mentally ill often calm down when a police officer shows up. His bill will allow the officer to use witness information to determine there's probable cause for a mental evaluation.

The bill unanimously passed the House public safety committee Wednesday.

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