The killing spree by the son of a Hollywood film director has
raised questions about whether police have adequate training to spot
warning signs of violence after it emerged that deputies sent to the
young man's home weeks prior to the rampage found him to be polite
and left without taking further action.
California Democrats hoping to improve the ability of police to spot
warning signs renewed a call on Wednesday to spend $12 million on
better training for police on such issues as part of a broader
measure seeking increased funding for mental health services in
California's criminal justice system.
"There were so many potential moments where this behavior could have
and perhaps should have been identified," said state senator
Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Santa Barbara Democrat, who is pushing for
the money to be included in the 2014-2015 budget.
The move by legislators came as students at the University of
California at Santa Barbara returned to class for the first time
since six students and the killer died in a stabbing and shooting
rampage in the seaside community of Isla Vista.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's department said deputies visited
Elliot Rodger at his apartment weeks before the shooting at the
request of his mother, who reported being disturbed by videos he had
posted online, but police left after he assured them he meant no
Better training might have helped the deputies recognize warning
signs at Rodger's apartment, Jackson said.
The killings have also renewed calls for tighter firearms
restrictions in the most populous U.S. state, where polls show that
most residents believe government is not doing enough to regulate
access to guns.
Another measure, to be introduced this week in the state assembly,
would allow friends, neighbors and family members to report to a
judge if they fear a person might commit a violent act. The judge
could then issue an injunction barring that person from owning guns.
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Had such a measure been in place when Rodger's mother called police
in April, they might have checked to see whether he had purchased
firearms or searched his apartment, said Democratic assemblywoman
Nancy Skinner, one of the measure's sponsors.
"You can only imagine her anguish when she tried to make an
intervention in April," she said.
But with the end of the legislative session looming, lawmakers were
clear they were not planning to introduce sweeping new gun laws.
Lawmakers passed several gun control measures last year after a 2012
massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, but several were vetoed
by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown.
Brown said the strictest one, which would have classified any rifle
with a removable magazine as an assault weapon, was an "infringement
on gun owners' rights." A spokesman for the governor said he has not
since changed his views.
(Additional reporting by Jennifer Chaussee in Sacramento and Ron
Grover in Los Angeles; editing by Gunna Dickson)
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