To ensure that it has the necessary information to identify armed prohibited persons with mental illness, Justice should coordinate with the AOC at least once a year to share information about court reporting levels and to determine the need to distribute additional information to courts about reporting requirements and the manner in which to report. In coordinating with the AOC about potential underreporting, at a minimum Justice should consider trends in the number of reports each court sends and the number of reports that it might expect to receive from a court given the court's size, location, and reporting history. Whenever Justice identifies a court that it determines may not be reporting all required information, it should request that the court forward all required case information.
The Department has on-going communication with the AOC Supervising Research Analyst Francine Byrne. Procedures were updated this year (May 2015) to reflect outreach to the AOC from a yearly basis to a quarterly basis regarding court reporting levels. A copy of these procedures will be provided for reference.
Additionally, the Department will be sending monthly information to all Superior Courts regardless of whether the court has shown a decline in reporting from month to month. A letter addressed to the Presiding Judge, along with a bar chart illustrating the data from the previous 14 months of reports submitted to the Department, will be sent on a monthly basis. The AOC will receive a copy of each bar chart sent to the Superior Courts on a monthly basis as well.
Statewide training was completed for the Superior Courts in April and May of 2014 . The Department has on-going communication with the AOC Supervising Research Analyst Francine Byrne. The 3rd Quarter report was provided to Francine. She informed us that she would contact the courts that had not submitted quarterly reports. AOC stated that they would contact the Department to request a new report within 30 days after the end of each quarter. In addition, the Department implemented desk procedures to contact the AOC at least once a year to inform the AOC which Superior Courts are in compliance and which are not, in compliance of reporting mental health prohibitions, and share this information with the Training, Information and Compliance Section manager if training is needed for the Superior Courts.
In its response regarding the status of its implementation of this recommendation after the state auditor's report was published, Justice asserted that it had fully implemented this recommendation. Based on our review of documentation provided by Justice at that time, we assessed the recommendation as fully implemented. However, during a follow-up audit, which entailed a more in-depth review of actions Justice has taken to address this recommendation, we found that Justice has not fully implemented the recommendation. The state auditor issued its follow-up audit titled Follow-Up—California Department of Justice: Delays In Fully Implementing Recommendations Prevent It From Accurately and Promptly Identifying All Armed Prohibited Persons With Mental Illness, Resulting in Continued Risk to Public Safety(Report 2015-504), in July 2015.
On April 1, 2014, the DOJ Mental Health Unit (MHU) manager contacted AOC Supervising Research Analyst Francine Byrne and discussed the following items: (1) the deployment date of April 17, 2014 for enhancements to the Departments Mental Health Reporting System (MHRS); (2) the Departments efforts to schedule MHRS training sessions; (3) the quarterly reports to identify each superior courts mental health prohibition reporting activity; and (4) the receipt of a current list of presiding judges and Court Executive Officers. The Department and the AOC have agreed to continue its discussions on a monthly basis to ensure that any underreporting by the superior courts is immediately identified by the Department and reported to the AOC.
The system enhancements implemented on April 17, 2014 will allow DOJ to track individual superior court reporting. Additionally, the Department has established an open line of communication with the AOC to exchange information regarding superior courts mental health prohibition reporting activity, and will continue their cooperative and timely exchange of information regarding the reporting of mental health information by the superior courts. The Department will also seek the assistance of the AOC as needed when conducting training presentations, disseminating information regarding updates/enhancements to the prohibition reporting process, and requesting information from the superior courts. Lastly, statewide training for the Superior Courts is scheduled April 28, 2014 through May 23, 2014, and will continue to be scheduled thereafter as needed.
Justice describes progress in its efforts to work with the AOC and reach out to courts in order to issue reminders about firearm prohibition reporting requirements. Justice clarified that even though its system enhancements are relatively new, it was able to produce a report for its meeting with AOC that showed court reporting levels over a three quarter period of time. We continue to assess this recommendation as partially implemented, as Justice did not provide documentation of a process for reviewing court reporting levels and identifying courts that it considers underreporting.
On November 20, 2013, Department of Justice (the Department)representatives Assistant Bureau Chief (AC) John Marsh, AC Steve Buford, and Deputy Attorney General (DAG) IV Kimberly Granger had a conference call with AOC Supervising Research Analyst Francine Byrne, and Attorney Kimberly DaSilva to discuss methods for improving and ensuring superior court compliance with state mental health reporting requirements. Additionally, the Department is pursuing system enhancements to the Mental Health Firearms Prohibition System (MHFPS) as needed to produce quarterly and/or other date range reports needed to track individual superior court reporting. AC Buford submitted a management change request to the Department's Hawkins Data Center (HDC) on November 4, 2013, requesting the needed system enhancement. HDC estimates work on the needed system enhancements will begin in February 2014. Justice and AOC plan to meet again in April 2014 to evaluate progress and further discuss AOC outreach to the state's courts.
Agency responses received are posted verbatim.