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Bill Would Allow Officers to Issue Citations to Misdemeanants With Mental Illnesses

By Laura Nicholes
TAC Senior Legislative Liaison

HB 1109, relating to peace officer interaction with persons with mental illness, has been filed by Rep. Cindy Burkett (R-Mesquite). The bill would amend the Code of Criminal Procedure by adding Article 14.07 to outline procedures for peace officers answering emergency calls that might involve persons with mental health issues.

The bill states that if a peace officer reasonably believes that a person involved in an emergency call is a person with a mental illness and the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed a misdemeanor offense, the peace officer may:

  1. issue a citation in lieu of arresting the person if authorized under Article 14.06; or
  2. take the person into custody under Section 573.001 of the Health and Safety Code. 

In the same circumstance, if an officer does not have reason to believe that the person has committed an offense, the peace officer:

  1. shall notify the local mental health authorities;
  2. may provide appropriate assistance to the person; and
  3. may take the person into custody under Sec. 573.001 of the Health and Safety Code.

Section 573.001 pertains to the apprehension by a peace officer without a warrant if there is a substantial risk of harm and no time to obtain a warrant.

HB 1109 will also require the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) to add training courses and programs for the investigation and documentation of cases that involve mental illness, in addition to those already required for child abuse or neglect and family violence. 

The bill has not yet been referred to committee.