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Broad Wisconsin coalition recommends emergency detention improvements

Posted at 3:54 PM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-11 18:41:53-05

MADISON, Wis. (AP/TMJ4) — A broad coalition of Wisconsin law enforcement agencies, health care professionals, local governments and others is recommending bolstering regional services as part of a multi-faceted approach to better handling emergency mental health detentions.

The recommendations released Thursday represent an attempt to address a longstanding and worsening issue across the state. The problem is that with county facilities at capacity, law enforcement agencies are increasingly forced to make sometimes hourslong trips to the only state facility that will take emergency mental health detentions in Oshkosh.

Some of the proposals will need legislative approval, while others can be done now.

“We can transform this system lead to better outcomes for those experiencing a severe mental health crisis, reduce strain on our system and ultimately make sure our takes dollars are spent more efficiently and more impactfully,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul.

The recommendations would divert emergency patients away from being transported to Winnebago Health and provide more regional local help.

“Having more options with care closer to home I think will lead to patients being in care that better matches their needs,” said Kaul.

It would also decrease the amount of time an officer spends on a mental health crisis call. According to the Department of Justice, when local facilities are at capacity, an officer can spend up to nine hours in the transportation process to Winnebago County.

“Officers would spend less time away from their communities and do the type of work in their communities that we expect officers to be doing,” said Kaul.

During the meeting, health care providers said those who are experiencing a mental health crisis deserve to be treated with the utmost respect and dignity and should receive the best care possible locally.

Some of the recommendations will require legislative approval.

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