The bill’s Sponsor Rep. Dan Costain on the need for the legislation:
“As a prior law enforcement officer, father, and legal guardian of an adult with at-risk behavior, I have seen firsthand, the need for officer awareness when it comes to responding to calls or interactions with at-risk individuals. In the US, approximately 6% of adults live with a serious mental illness, 10% of children and adolescents suffer from serious emotional or mental disorders that cause significant functional impairment in their everyday lives.
1 in 10 Americans over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s, and it has been projected to double in the next 50 yrs. A person who seems to be mentally ill to a mental health professional may not seem so to first responders who, despite their professional experience, have not had sufficient training in dealing with these individuals. They are responsible for recognizing the need for treatment or making the determination that the individual’s illegal activity is a result of a mental health issue or that the person should be arrested. In some cases mental illness may seem to the police to be alcohol, drug intoxication or personal actions may be construed as aggressive or threatening.
This legislation is intended to create and maintain a database for Law Enforcement to identify individuals prone to risky behavior such as those with Autism, Dementia, and Proudly Serving District 100: Corinna/ Dixm0nt/ Etna (Part) /Newp0rt/ Plymouth Alzheimer’s; the database allows officers to view information including a photo right away in the cruiser. Several counties have already implemented similar programs such as The Wandering Person Program, and have found them to be great assets. The program collects information such as physical descriptions, photos, addresses, contact numbers, potential triggers and calming techniques. When an officer or first responder comes in contact with these individuals, they will have all pertinent information at their fingertips to deal with the situation appropriately.
This bill promotes safety for both first responders as well as our at-risk citizens. After speaking with my 35 yr. old son about this bill, he stated he wished they would have had this type of program available throughout his life. Both he and his friends with similar at-risk behavior would have greatly benefited. Lastly, I would like to point out that this program will be completely voluntary. Only the at-risk individual or their legal guardian may request to be added to the database, in order to maintain privacy.”