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home : latest news : state May 26, 2016

2/21/2013 2:17:00 PM
Panel vote requires teachers to report potential 'crazy evil people'

Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- Calling it a key to preventing mass shootings, a House panel voted Wednesday to require teachers and health professionals to report potentially dangerous people to police.

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said all the proposals to keep people safe with new regulations on guns or even police in classrooms really won't stop someone from shooting up a school. He said the only thing that really works is stopping it before it happens.

Kavanagh, sponsor of HB 2555, cited reports that various teachers and officials at Pima Community College knew about what was described as bizarre behavior by Jared Loughner before he killed six and wounded 13 two years ago in a Tucson Safeway parking lot, including then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

The same committee also approved HB 2618 to require additional training of police cadets on identifying those with dangerous mental illness so they can detain those people for additional mental health treatment.

But the panel also gave the go ahead for a third Kavanagh measure which would expand the ability of individuals to bring their guns into public buildings.

HB 2554 says that a mere sign banning weapons, by itself, would not be enough to make a building gun-free. Nor would be the availability of gun lockers somewhere else.

Instead, a government agency seeking to keep out armed patrons would have to provide lockers within 200 feet of the building entrance for individuals to store their guns.

That proposal drew sharp criticism from Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, in part because of the cost to taxpayers of having to install lockers at all public buildings.

"I'm sorry there are some people that live in a state of paranoia where they have to have their weapon with them at all times,' he said. "But I don't see how that has to be at taxpayer cost.'

That comment drew derision from Rep. Sonny Borelli, R-Lake Havasu City.

"People are only paranoid because there are crazy evil people out there,' he responded. And Borelli, citing Gallego's Marine Corps experience, said he should know that.

"We've been in places where everybody's armed and you'd be surprised how polite people can really be.'

And Kavanagh said there's a simple solution for communities that don't want to install gun lockers: Let people carry their guns into the building.

None of this would affect courts, college campuses or other buildings that have guards and metal detectors, where guns still could be prohibited.

But it was the measure to mandate reporting of those with mental health problems that proved the most controversial.

Kavanagh said his legislation has safeguards. He said it requires someone to personally observe conduct that shows the person is a danger to self or others.

The only exception to that personal observation would be if there is "an actual communicated threat' and that the student or client has both the intent and the ability to carry out that threat.

Anyway, he said, calling the police does not necessarily mean anyone is going to be locked up in the state hospital. It simply gives officers the ability to analyze the situation and either call for a mental health crisis intervention team or detain the person for further observation.

None of that comforted Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert. He questioned forcing teachers to call the police based on someone being considered a "danger to self or others.

"When you're talking about kids on a playground and they're throwing rocks or they get in a fight, that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with mental illness or health issues,' Farnsworth said.

"I think that language is exceptionally broad,' he said. "I think you're going to have teachers that are going to be reporting kids who are a danger, but not a real danger that we normally expect.'

Kavanagh assured lawmakers that the state Department of Health Services would distribute information to teachers to identify true problems "so it's not just their own subjective personal opinion.'

And Kavanagh told colleagues they don't need to look far for an example of why the legislation is needed, citing the Loughner case as a prime exhibit.

"School officials knew about this and nobody thought to call the police,' he said.

But Farnsworth saw other problems with the measure, pointing to another provision to give teachers absolute immunity from lawsuit for calling police, whether the teacher acted reasonably or not.

"If they act in a way that they're going to report somebody just to get back at a parent that was upset at them, why should they have immunity?' he asked.

But Rep. David Livingston, R-Peoria, said he sees the legislation from a different perspective because his wife is a teacher.

"She has been threatened with her life at school before,' he told colleagues.

"It took three different times complaining to the principal at that time before the police were brought in,' Livingston said. "Thank goodness nothing happened in between.'

He said this legislation would make it crystal clear that teachers not only have the right but the obligation to report such behavior to police.

Borelli, however, said he's not convinced that having teachers use their judgment about a student's mental health -- and calling police -- is necessarily a good thing.

He said that teachers were at the forefront of efforts years ago to convince parents their children were suffering from attention deficit disorder and should be medicated with Ritalin.

"What's wrong with a teacher who feels threatened to pick up the phone and call the parent?' he asked.

All the measures now go to the full House.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: nutso fasst

What I like about itsy bitsy Spider is all that Bill Bassett wrote plus the fact that she/he is just about the most neutral writer here.

The 'extensive' comment below that touches on all the legislation Rep. Kavanagh has in the works should be required reading for every voter in Arizona. Relative to the amount of information and food for thought, it may be the shortest comment here.

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

@ Mary Jane
That's another good idea. It would have to be more like 20 years, though. John Kavanagh has been here for over a decade.

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: Gaia Gurl

Bill . . . don't quit your day job!

PLAGERISM - The practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own.

It is NOT PLAGERISM, if you cite the source of your information.

To write a TERM paper you need to cite credible sources as references. To get a DOCTORATE you have to cite CREDIBLE sources as references to support your argument.

Since Itsy Bitsy DID NOT cite the source of her information, she is commiting PLAGERISM, cause all that information did not just POP UP in her head.

So you would rather believe the rambling OPINIONS of anonymous people, then material that is supported by a CREDIBLE (not talking about Billy Bob's Blog) source? LOL


I went to school to be a TEACHER . . .

Not a preacher (BIBLE taught in AZ public school).

Not a security guard (suggested we go to school ARMED).

Not a mental health PROFESSIONAL . . .

Teachers starting pay in Arizona is LESS than a man who drives a GARBAGE truck thanks to our "Right to work state" laws.

I can be SUED and because there are no unions here, it is up to ME to pay for my own attorney . . .

In addition . . . I also have to pay for my OWN continuing education, much of my supplies and to furnish my classroom beyond desks, blackboards and chairs.

Maybe it's TIME to find a new profession, this one is NOT WORTH it anymore, but then that is EXACTLY what CONSERVATIVES want, so the can PRIVATIZE education and hand it off to CORPORATIONS where your children will be nothing but PROFIT and they will be taught by minimum wage STAFF instead of EDUCATED PROFESSIONALS.

Then kids will be sitting on floors just to squeeze more PROFIT out of next quarter's earnings . . .

Good luck with that!

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: itsy bitsy Spider

The problem with that, Mr. Falbo: Rep. Kavanagh is a teacher. Why he didn't bother asking his colleagues at Scotsdale CC if they wanted to be cops...?

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: Crime Wave

Well I guess that keeps me from furthering my education, I have been profiled.

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Jane

How about a new litmus test for potential politicians in Arizona:

To run for office in the State of Arizona, candidates must be Arizona natives.

I find it awfully tiresome watching mid-western and eastern politicians moving to Arizona and then trying to make it "Just like back home!"

To really fix the problem we can require a residency period of say, 10 yrs. and the ability to pass a 'Citizen's Test' which would question potential residents about Arizona history and the wild, wild west.

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

@ Phil Falbo
Now there's a thought. Let's organize a caravan--five or six bus loads of teachers and health care professionals should do it--and see how many dangerous deviants they can clear out of the State House in a day. But do you think we should schedule stops at city and county enclaves en route?

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: Slater Slater

Teachers are now trained phycologists etc.
Kids are nuts all the time.Ever raised a teen.
Electronic walk thru might deter.The school owns the lockers,have students lockers randomly searched for safety reasons.

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: Common Sense

Good Idea??? Maybe, but only if common sense is used. Reporting a young kid for making a paper gun or pointing a finger at another student is NOT using Common Sense. Instances like these are NOT a mental health issue and the teacher reporting this without proper evidence should also have their mental health checked. Any GOOD teacher knows his or her students and can usually tell when something is not right, there are warning signs that a GOOD teacher would know. Some do go unrecognized or are being monitored when a tragedy happens. Reporting a kid for child’s play can cause more harm than help. So, to the teachers who can't use common sense and see the difference between playing and mental health issues maybe you should consider a different profession.

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: Bill Bassett

You know what I like about itsy bitsy spider? I'll tell you. His or her comments are all actually written by itsy bitsy spider. That is to say they are not 'copy and paste' replies from some blog or some quasi news site on the Internet. Well done itsy, if I may call you that. So many opinions expressed on these pages appear to be plagiarized. I could name names but I reckon you know who you are.

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: Phil Falbo

Just imagine, if this concept moves forward and teachers can actually report "potential evil crazy people,' the good that could come from having a Teachers Day' in the state capitol.

'Crazy' is rampant therein.

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: Lets See

Here A teacher to report a kid We have kids kicked out of school for defending their self. We have little kids kicked out for drawing a picture of a gun for playing cops and robbers for making a sign of a gun with their fingers. Yep I'd sure want these liberal teachers that have brainwashed a generation to report the kids that don't fit in their Liberal Marxist Agenda

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: itsy bitsy Spider

State Representative John Kavanagh certainly has been busy in the first month of his fourth term: three Law & Order bills, one bill for the gun lobby, and a resolution attacking Arizona voters' sanity.

Since three of these items involve serious, or potentially serious, violations of Arizonan's constitutional rights, I hope all concerned web crawlers will check them out.


Personally, I've asked our State Representatives (Brenda Barton and Bob Thorp, District 6) to do what they can to get Rep. Kavanagh under sedation before he puts half the population of Arizona behind bars.

Since they are both conservatives, chances are they think this kind of legislation is what their voting bloc wants. Obviously, Rep. Kavanagh--a New Yorker with a PhD in Criminal Justice from Rutgers--is convinced most Arizonans do, and since he's been fielding these ultra-authoritarian exercises for years, apparently, he's right about the Scottsdale area.

We, the Constitutionally conscious, right and left, have to make a concerted effort to disabuse them before assuming they're just control freaks who don't give a darn about what their constituents think. If they're not hearing from moderates and independents, they may not have a clue.


VI article "Patients criticize more foot-dragging on medical marijuana" 1/29/2013
Re: Medical Marijuana Act amendment/repeal HCR 2003 January 4, 2013
Related VI article "Montgomery pushes challenge to marijuana law" 1/29/2013

VI article "Bill would make it easier to lock up mentally ill on probable cause" 2/12/2013 (online only)
Re: HB 2158, which eliminates the requirement for police officers to personally observe aberrant behavior in order to detain and hold someone at a hospital for 24 hours, thus allowing police to rely on what others say they have seen to hold someone for 48 hours.

VI article "Panel vote requires teachers to report potential 'crazy evil people'" 2/21/2013
Re: HB 2555, which requires teachers and health professionals to report potentially dangerous people to the police.
Re: HB 2618, which requires additional training of police cadets on identifying the signs of dangerous mental illness.
Re: HB 2554, which requires a government agency seeking to bar individuals from bringing guns into public buildings to provide lockers within 200 feet of the building for armed individuals to store their weapons in.


Rep. John Kavanagh (R-AZ 23rd District, District 8) pertinent facts

1. Rep. Kavanagh has been elected 4 times by his constituents in the Fountain Hills, Scottsdale, Tonto Verde, and Rio Verde area. Although originally from New York, New York, he's been a resident of Arizona for at least 12 years.

2. Rep. Kavanagh holds a doctorate in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University and a masters in Government from St. John's University (Queens, NY). He's currently a professor of criminal justice at Scottsdale Community College and director of the college's Administration of Justice Studies and Forensic Science Program.

3. In addition to serving in the New York National Guard, Rep. Kavanagh served 20 years as a police officer with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department, retiring as a detective sergeant.

4. In addition to his 6 years of experience in the Arizona legislature, he was town councilman in Fountain Hills for 6 years and in Lafayette (N.J.) for 3 years.

Overall, Rep. Kavanagh's opinion on crime prevention legislation is neither uninformed nor ivory tower. His solutions to a given enforcement problem deserve consideration. However, two decades enforcing laws in a high-crime metropolitan area seem to have predisposed him to heavy-hammer legislation as the answer to everything. Although his enforcement-oriented bills might be applicable to the Phoenix and Tucson areas, even downtown Phoenix isn't analogous to a bus terminal in New York City. So I think there is reason to question whether all, or any, should be enacted statewide.


Re: Medical Marijuana Act amendment/repeal HCR 2003 January 4, 2013

I oppose this proposal to put the Medical Marijuana issue back on the 2014 ballot because:

1. This action violates Arizona's basic contract with its citizens. They approved medical marijuana. There is no compelling State reason to question the voters' preference a 4th time.
2. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery has a challenge pending in the Arizona Supreme Court to determine the legality of violating Federal Law. This is the correct procedure for questioning a voter-approved measure.
3. Rep. Kavanagh's proposal does not address any of the problems created by the Federal ban on marijuana. Nor would it restrict under-age access prevalent throughout Arizona for many decades.
4. Since the Medical Marijuana Act is not yet up and running, Rep. Kavanagh's claim that voters have seen how the systems works is specious.
5. Since the State did accept applications and issue cards, but there's no provision for destroying those records, Rep. Kavanagh's proposal puts the 34,000+ people who applied in good faith at risk of future harassment--whether they abide by a negative outcome or not.

Re: HB 2158, which eliminates the requirement for police officers to personally observe aberrant behavior in order to detain and hold someone at a hospital for 24 hours, thus allowing police to rely on what others say they have seen to hold someone for 48 hours.

I object to this revision of an existing law because:

1. Absent the actual commission of a crime, aberrant behavior is both subjective and dependent on the viewer's frame of mind. For instance, I have a problem with compulsive evangelists; thus, I'd be more inclined to interpret any unusual behavior on their part as abnormal and threatening. Someone with an intense dislike of guns would be more inclined to think something gun lovers did was abnormal and threatening. And these biases might not even be conscious, much less included in a report.
2. False reports based on vindictiveness or spite are already common occurrences.
3. If a police officer hasn't personally observed the reported behavior, the officer has no way of evaluating the seriousness of the behavior, much less the validity of the report.
4. The current law already pushes the line of false arrest, which forces officers to be quite sure the subject needs hospitalization. Rep. Kavanagh's change shifts onus to untrained civilians, which could deter rather than encourage reporting truly dangerous potential problems.
5. Current law already covers the only example Rep. Kavanagh gave, as reported in the news article.
6. The idea of picking anyone up on anyone's say-so and medicating them into anyone else's criteria of acceptable behavior disturbs me. I realize this is supposed to be for the safety of others, but it could be used the way it was in Argentina, Germany, Northern Ireland, Russia, China, New York City. There should be specific safeguards in this bill, and there are none.
7. Rather than making others safer, I fear this would make them more insular, more paranoid--turn neighbor against neighbor, community against police--as it has already done everywhere guilt by accusation has become commonplace.
8. We just had an example of something similar over in Rimrock, which resulted in the arrest, trial, and acquittal of Ivo Beddeke.

Re: HB 2555, which requires teachers and health professionals to report potentially dangerous people to the police.

As reported, this bill comes close to incomprehensible.

All the above objections apply. Plus, the news media is full of the consequences of requiring teachers and health professionals to report subjective judgment calls. They do--in droves. Children have been hauled away in handcuffs for childish tantrums. Children have been sentenced to behavioral modification treatments for a politically incorrect remark. Police are tied up for hours investigating adolescent pranks. Police and Social Services descend upon families on suspicion of abuse. Totally innocent citizens are, at best, traumatized. At worst, their lives are ruined. And cities and schools and health care facilities lose a lot of money when victims sue.

It's easy to understand why Rep. Kavanagh wants to indemnify informants. But it's impossible to understand why he doesn't realize that, in most people's minds, mandated reporting makes them liable for anything that might happen if they don't report every tiny possibility. And I'm sure he's run up against a lot of people who didn't tell him what he needed to solve a case because they were afraid they'd be blamed for not realizing such and such sooner. Not to mention all the things teachers and health professionals don't learn until it's too late because their students/clients know they have to be snitches.

We already have problems with mandated reporting in areas where evidence is more clear-cut. Why would Rep. Kavanagh want to make it worse?

Re: HB 2618, which requires additional training of police cadets on identifying the signs of dangerous mental illness.

This seems like a good use of taxpayer funds.

However, it makes me wonder why Rep. Kavanagh thinks teachers and health professionals can get by with a brochure from the Department of Health Services. If the State mandates their proficiency in this area, shouldn't it provide additional training for them as well?

Re: HB 2554, which requires a government agency seeking to bar individuals from bringing guns into public buildings to provide lockers within 200 feet of the building for armed individuals to store their weapons in.

This also seems like a legitimate use of taxpayer funds.

In countries where citizens are required to remove their shoes before entering a public building, the government provides shoe-check service (and slipper-socks, too).

Would Rep. Ruben Gallego rather gun-dependent citizens leave their legally purchased pacifiers in their cars in a parking lot or on the street? Or simply refuse to enter any public building?

Besides, citizens who can't bear to be parted from their i-phones, cameras, or tape recorders could use a secure storage locker as well, at least in those buildings where these are prohibited.

But haven't we been here before? I thought this was settled 1 or 2 years ago.

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