Ohio Requires Judges To Tell Police About Cases Of Violence, Mental Illness


Three years after Clark County, Oh., Deputy Sheriff Suzanne Hopper was ambushed and killed by a deranged man, a new rule goes into effect today requiring Ohio courts to notify police about violent offenders with a mental illness, reports the Columbus Dispatch. The Ohio Supreme Court devised a new document — Form 95 — that judges must fill out and submit to police for entry into a national crime database when a court orders a person convicted of a violent offense to be evaluated or treated for mental illness, or when a court approves a conditional release of a person found not guilty by reason of insanity or found incompetent to stand trial. The database, accessible only by law-enforcement agencies, is intended to inform police officers about suspects who have a history of violence and mental illness.

“Having that information is power,” Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly said. “It allows us to more properly diagnose a situation.” Hopper, 40, was photographing evidence after being called to a campground to investigate a report of shots being fired. She did not know that Michael Ferryman had fired the shots and was aiming his gun at her from inside his trailer 5 feet away. She did not know that he had attacked deputies previously and was declared criminally insane in 2002. “He had moved to a different county, where they didn't know about his past,” said Jay McDonald, president of the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police. “That's something, for the safety of officers, they need to know. We should know about people with a violent past coupled with mental illness.” In June, Gov. John Kasich signed the Deputy Suzanne Hopper Act. It requires courts to report to law-enforcement agencies whenever someone is released from treatment and sent back to the community after being found either incompetent to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity.

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