Broward Sheriff: Give Police the Power to Involuntarily Commit People Who Raise 'Red Flags'

By Susan Jones | February 15, 2018 | 11:45am EST
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel speaks to reporters on Thursday morning, Feb. 15. (Photo: Screenshot)

( - Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel on Thursday called for more first responders, more mental health treatment, and more power for police to involuntarily commit people who raise what he called "red flags."

The Baker Act in Florida allows law enforcement or medical professionals to confine a person involuntarily...but you have to have a reason, you have to be able to articulate that they're a threat to themselves or a threat to someone else.

So what I'm asking our lawmakers to do is go back to places like Tallahassee or places like Washington, D.C. -- give police the power -- if they see something on social media, if they see graphic pictures of rifles and blood and gore and guns and bombs --  if they see something with horrific language -- if they see a person talking about, I want to grow up to be a serial killer -- we  need to have the power to take that person and bring them before mental health professionals at that particular time, involuntarily, and have them examined.

People are going to be rightfully so concerned about their rights, as am I. But what about the rights of these students? What about the rights of young kids who go to school with book bags and pencils, don't they have the right to be protected by the United States government to the best of our ability? And that's what we'll be doing.

Sheriff Israel said it's important for people to say something if they see something or even if there's "something in your gut."

"If you know anybody right now, if you know anybody -- you say, you  know what, this raises a red flag, I was thinking of calling (you). Don't think about calling us, call us! Call the FBI, call the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, call the Broward Sheriff's Office."

"Please don't remain silent," the sheriff added. "Please let us know about it."

Later, Sheriff Israel said there's nothing law enforcement can do if someone legally owns a gun. "But we can certainly follow up," he said.

"We can certainly go to visit him, whether he legally owns a gun or not, if we think that red flag goes up and that there's something not right and we think that this person has a propensity to do such a horrific act, I think police all over this nation need to be empowered to take that person...and deliver him or her to a medical facility where they can be examined.”

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