House bill

House Bill 620 crosses the House, but is stalled in the Senate

After passing the Idaho House unanimously, Rep. Brooke Green asks why her bill was not heard. Critics share some of the issues they see with it.

BOISE, Idaho — After passing the Idaho House without a single no, House Bill 620 is still awaiting passage in the Senate. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Brooke Green (D-Boise), seeks to prohibit law enforcement from posting electronic snaps for nonviolent offenses.

“I haven’t heard any official confirmation yet whether or not I’ll get a hearing,” Green said.

Green’s work on the legislation goes back several years. Green’s friend died by suicide after being arrested in 2019 for trespassing and disturbing the peace. Green said the mugshot became entertainment for the evening news, capitalizing on a crisis.

“What this does is it really codifies into state law that our most vulnerable people should have a level of protection that would be afforded to them if they were in a crisis,” said Green.

Rep. Green said her bill is in limbo and she doesn’t know if it will get another hearing this year. She understands that her bill is subject to criticism, but she wants to hear it and resolve it in a public forum, especially since it received unanimous support in the House.

“The bill should die on its merits,” Green said. “He should go through the process, allow people to participate in the process. And whether or not it survives should be done in open conversation in both chambers. »

Members of the Idaho Sheriffs’ Association said they appreciate the investment in mental health, but are concerned about the legislation.

“Law enforcement, unequivocally, in my opinion, deal more with mental health issues on the street as first responders, more than anyone out there. We are the ones encountering this literally every hour throughout the state of Idaho, every hour, day and night. said Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue.

Donahue and Bonneville County Sheriff Sam Hulse are leaders of the Idaho Sheriffs Association. They both appreciate Green’s efforts, but say the idea would be complicated to work with. The law project says the idea would be: “To protect the image of the reservation of an individual who, within 24 hours of the reservation, has been detained or hospitalized for a psychiatric purpose. Provided the crime is a misdemeanor not involving assault or battery.”

“The biggest problem I see with this is that we’re not necessarily going to find out. And I think that opens up the counties, the sheriffs, to accountability, asking us to predict the future. We can’t always do that. We can hold a person for a few hours. They could bond then and they could end up in a psychiatric ward and we would be completely oblivious,” Sheriff Hulse said.

Sheriffs said that, for example, if someone is arrested for a misdemeanor, booked and released on bail, there is no way of knowing if someone is voluntarily checking into a mental health facility or even s is committed.

“No one ever reports this to the sheriff’s office. And then a photo is posted on the sign for us under emergency communication clearance. They are not allowed to communicate it to us there. It would be a violation of the people. The only way to do that is if it’s based on emergency communication,” Hulse said.

Green said she wanted the opportunity to have that conversation in a Senate committee, especially since technical issues prevented sheriffs from testifying at the House committee hearing on the bill. law.

“To me, that’s incredibly valuable. We should have open conversations and the bill should die on its merits. While I recognize it’s not dead yet, I recognize that the session isn’t over yet, and I’m a little optimistic. It’s incredibly personal, but after all, I got multiple emails and phone calls and people stopped me saying how much they appreciate it,” Green said.

Sheriff Donahue says he appreciates that, but realistically, at this point in the legislative session, that in-depth conversation may have to wait. He said he knows law enforcement wants to be there to support mental health in Idaho, which is a major challenge in Idaho.

“We are ready to take a seat at this table to address the mental health epidemic in this state. From a law enforcement perspective, we’ve been at the table for years. We sat on those committees. We have served on these boards and will continue to do so. Let’s all unite and solve this horrible problem. Because it’s huge, and we can’t do it alone. And really, neither did the legislature,” Donahue said.

Green hopes she gets a chance late in the session to at least have a Senate hearing.

“I don’t want to put an additional burden on our sheriffs. I have enormous respect for them. My husband is the sheriff’s deputy. I recognize the value they bring to our communities. I also recognize that we sometimes have to modify our operational practices to accommodate some of our most vulnerable people. That’s really what it’s all about. But I don’t think it’s necessarily so much criticism that they recognize their operations. I respect that. But I also want to say, let’s sit down at the table and find a way to achieve the same goal,” Green said.

KTVB contacted the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Rules to get an overview of the bill and a possible hearing, there was no immediate response.

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