Friday, August 17, 2012

Why Didn't Colorado University Police Act on Holmes?

Simple enough reason: the law did not allow them to seek an emergency commitment.  Colorado Revised Statutes 27-65-105(a)(I) provides:
When any person appears to have a mental illness and, as a result of such mental illness, appears to be an imminent danger to others or to himself or herself or appears to be gravely disabled, then a person specified in subparagraph (II) of this paragraph (a), each of whom is referred to in this section as the "intervening professional", upon probable cause and with such assistance as may be required, may take the person into custody, or cause the person to be taken into custody, and placed in a facility designated or approved by the executive director for a seventy-two-hour treatment and evaluation.
However, Holmes was not considered "an imminent danger":
The CU Behavioral Evaluation and Threat Assessment team (BETA) documents include an Integrative "Threat Assessment Matrix," which details five levels of threats from "No Risk Identified" to "Imminent Risk," records show. The first time the threat matrix says to include "law enforcement response" is at level 4, labeled "High Risk." 
I suppose if you move from making threats to loading a gun while making threats, you reach the "Imminent Risk" category.  Not did Holmes qualify as "gravely disabled," which, under C.R.S. 27-65-102(9) requires either:
(a) a condition in which a person, as a result of a mental illness:

(I) Is in danger of serious physical harm due to his or her inability or failure to provide himself or herself with the essential human needs of food, clothing, shelter, and medical care; or

(II) Lacks judgment in the management of his or her resources and in the conduct of his or her social relations to the extent that his or her health or safety is significantly endangered and lacks the capacity to understand that this is so.
Maybe Holmes might have fit in (9)(a)(II), but it is a stretch.  The other definition of gravely disabled requires:

 (b) A person who, because of care provided by a family member or by an individual with a similar relationship to the person, is not in danger of serious physical harm or is not significantly endangered in accordance with paragraph (a) of this subsection (5) subsection (9) may be deemed "gravely disabled" if there is notice given that the support given by the family member or other individual who has a similar relationship to the person is to be terminated and the individual with a mental illness:
(I) Is diagnosed by a professional person as suffering from: Schizophrenia; a major affective disorder; a delusional disorder; or another mental disorder with psychotic features; and
(II) Has been certified, pursuant to this article, for treatment of the disorder or has been admitted as an inpatient to a treatment facility for treatment of the disorder at least twice during the last thirty-six months with a period of at least thirty days between certifications or admissions; and
 (III) Is exhibiting a deteriorating course leading toward danger to self or others or toward the conditions described in paragraph (a) of this subsection (5)subsection (9) with symptoms and behavior that are substantially similar to those that preceded and were associated with his or her hospital admissions or certifications for treatment; and
(IV) Is not receiving treatment that is essential for his or her health or safety.

Holmes had not yet been hospitalized, and so (9)(b)(II) didn't apply...yet.  While many mentally ill murderers have long histories, others go from sane to mass murder in a surprisingly short time...and like Holmes, it is obvious that they are dangerous.  Colorado can fix this; there are a series of specific changes to their statutes to solve it.  A friend with connections is talking to legislators and the governor next week.

There is a non-emergency procedure, but the courts are supposed to seek the cooperation of the respondent first, before taking him into custody.  Gee, what is the usual response of a paranoid schizophrenic who has been stockpiling explosives, guns, and ammo when you politely ask him to come in for a commitment evaluation?

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