Arizona system alerts cops to mentally ill subjects

Tragedies such as the Fort Lauderdale shooting have many concerned Americans wondering what should be done regarding the mentally ill and firearms, but one state already has a system designed to make law enforcement’s job safer when approaching mentally ill subjects.

According to PoliceOne, Arizona has recently implemented a system to alert police officers when a subject they’re approaching is prohibited from owning a gun due to a mental health court order.

When an officer runs a warrants query that finds a hit in the Arizona Crime Information Center, an alert is generated as a response to that query.

The initiative was funded by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. Key stakeholders, from law enforcement officials to the Superior Courts, had a voice in developing the legislation and its implementation.

While the alert system has been a great tool for Arizona law enforcement, it does not address the reported gaps in the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which houses data on prohibited possessors.

If a mentally ill individual has not yet been flagged as a prohibited possessor in the FBI NICS database, then neither law enforcement nor federal firearm licensees would have a way of pinging that individual as such.

As of Dec. 31, more than 4.6 million individuals prohibited from possessing a firearm due to mental health records have been added to the FBI NICS database.