A bill by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, would still allow law enforcement officers to detain a mentally ill patient in a jail in case of an emergency, but clarifies that “time and convenience” do not constitute one. Only if a hospital bed or other appropriate facility is more than 75 miles away can a mentally ill person be detained in jail, and then, at most, for 12 hours. The intent of the bill is to prevent jail suicides. According to the bill analysis, more than half of jail suicides occur within the first 24 hours of incarceration.Those timellines add some urgency to jails' need to evaluate incoming inmates' mental health needs and get them to a provider.
The other bill, reports the Trib's Becca Aaronson, requires extra training of school-based police officers for dealing with kids with disabilites:
The second bill, by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, would require peace officers working for school districts to receive special training in how to properly restrain children, particularly physically and mentally disabled children.Zaffirini's bill probably will have a more immediate impact, but it's impressive that there's enough bipartisan interest in police restraints in the Senate - where 21 votes are needed to bring legislation to the floor - for these bills to clear the upper chamber.
Existing law requires all school employees to be properly trained in restraining physically or mentally disabled children, but it specifically excludes police officers. Davis said this creates confusion over whether peace officers hired by school districts, who are often called on to restrain disabled children, have proper training.