The state Assembly passed a bill Wednesday that is meant to help law enforcement handle emergency mental health detentions.
An emergency detention is when law enforcement takes somebody into custody because they are believed to be a threat to themselves or to others. The bill allows law enforcement agencies to contract with other departments, ambulance companies or other third parties to make such transports.
The intention is to keep officers on other tasks instead of waiting for doctors to clear patients for transport and driving them to facilities, which can take hours.
The bill passed on a voice vote, according to the Associated Press. The bill will now move to the state Senate.
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“The difficult issues surrounding the emergency detention process knows no boundaries,” Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, said in a statement. “This process takes officers off the streets for hours at a time and strains local government budgets all across the state. This bill will allow law enforcement to contract out these transport services, keeping them on the streets and protecting our communities.”
The bill also requires the state to seek federal approval to reimburse counties when they transport Medicaid recipients.
“Although this legislation doesn’t address all of the challenges associated with this process, it is a significant start that will have a direct impact on our local communities as soon as it is signed into law,” Born said. “I look forward to shepherding this bill through the Senate chamber and sending it to the governor’s desk.”
In December, Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt testified before an Assembly’s committee about the bill.
“In my opinion, and I think the opinion of many law enforcement executives, emergency detentions by far take up the most time of any incident that we deal with on a daily basis,” he said.