While Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers can detain people in mental crisis at a hospital for mental health evaluation as a way for officers to divert people believed to be a danger to themselves or others from the criminal justice system while connecting them with services as needed, once the person has been released from immediate detention, there’s little police can do, reports the Indy Star. This was the case with Brandon Hole, the man who shot and killed eight people inside an Indianapolis FedEx facility. A year before the massacre, when Hole’s mother told police she feared her son might commit “suicide by cop,” police responded to their home, spoke to Hole, seized a shotgun from the home and had Hole placed under immediate detention at a local hospital. Hole was released from immediate detention within hours, and within months of the March 2020 incident, he had purchased more guns.
In 2020, Indianapolis police initiated 3,670 similar immediate detentions, according to department data. In almost every case, if the person is released, he or she is referred to follow-up care and may be offered other services to help. In some instances, a mental health professional may suggest a person remain in the hospital for longer than 24 hours, and if they think that person could be a danger to themselves or others an emergency 72-hour hold is initiated that requires the request of an adult petitioner, and the signature of a physician and judge. Once that time is up, if mental health professionals believe the person needs additional help and he or she is refusing it, they can go before a judge and request an up to the 90-day commitment. In the case of Hole, IMPD said the department’s Behavioral Health Unit followed up with him six days later, but there’s no report of the visit. Many point to Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears’ failure to pursue red flag law proceedings designed to keep firearms out of the hands of people deemed dangerous to themselves or others as responsible. Mears claims the law itself is flawed.