Legislation To Help Police Safety - WCMH: News, Weather, and Sports for Columbus, Ohio

Legislation To Help Police Safety

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -

A bill introduced this week at the Ohio Statehouse would require courts to provide more information to law enforcement about cases involving defendants judged mentally incompetent or insane. The legislation is named after Clark County Deputy Suzanne Hopper who was shot and killed by a man with a history of violence and mental illness.

When Hopper and other officers responded to a German Township trailer park on New Year's Day 2011, they were unaware of 47-year-old Michael Ferryman's criminal history. Ferryman was found not guilty by reason of insanity after an incident in 2001 when he fired on deputies in Morgan County. After spending several years in mental health facilities, Ferryman was approved for conditional release.

The Deputy Suzanne Hopper Act would require that courts provide law enforcement with information about defendants found incompetent to stand trial or found guilty by reason of insanity when those defendants are approved for conditional release. The information would then be entered into a law enforcement database and available to officers responding to calls.

German Township patrolman Jeremy Blum, injured in the shootout with Ferryman, says he's not sure whether the mental health information would have made a difference on that day.  But he believes it might help save lives in the future.

"I think it does need to be made available to police officers so they know what they're dealing with," Blum said. "The more information we have hopefully the better the outcome in the end."

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