Courts and Mental Health Providers Can Report Handgun Background Check Information Electronically
An important piece of information for background checks associated with handgun purchases and concealed carry permits can now be submitted by Ohio courts and mental health care providers through the Ohio Courts Network.
Starting on June 3, the OCN began to allow Mental Illness Adjudication Reporting (MIAR) from county probate courts and state hospitals to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. As part of Ohio’s 2004 law allowing concealed carry handgun permits, probate courts and mental health providers were required to notify BCI with all adjudications of mental illness. The Ohio Supreme Court and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office worked together on the technology to link the BCI to OCN for these reports.
Until the network enhancement, each involuntary commitment was recorded by courts and providers on paper forms and mailed to BCI for entry into its system. BCI will continue to process any forms received from probate courts, state hospitals, and mental health facilities, but those courts and state hospitals that prefer to connect through OCN can report electronically.
Launched in 2008, the OCN allows courts and partner agencies to search various records including court cases, jail bookings, Bureau of Motor Vehicles driving records, BCI arrests, protection orders, and Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction prison records.
The OCN court case data warehouse currently contains more than 48 million case records and is receiving daily case record updates from approximately 311 courts, representing 87 percent of the annual case volume in the state.
In the case of MIAR, the OCN is not collecting the information. Instead BCI is now able to receive it electronically by leveraging the benefits of the OCN authentication and security, said Tony Kenzie, Ohio Supreme Court Information Technology Program Manager. Electronic reporting will improve the timeliness and accuracy of the reports, he added.
The report cannot be submitted without all the required information. If something is missing or incorrect, the user is notified immediately to correct it. The sender gets an immediate confirmation when BCI accepts their report.
Along with filing reports, each participating court can use the OCN to view all commitment reports submitted by the court regardless of whether they were submitted electronically or on paper.
Currently 83 of 88 probate courts are participating in the OCN. Not all probate courts report MIAR as some counties without mental health facilitates transfer their mental illness cases to other counties for evaluation. The receiving counties report the adjudications to BCI. As of mid June, eight probate courts have signed up to use this capability, and it is available to the six state mental hospitals.
In 2014, 3,939 involuntary commitments were reported to BCI bringing the total reports in its system to 46,753.