Madison Police Chief Says Officers Spend Hours Driving Mentally Ill To Oshkosh Institution

Koval Says Closure Of Madison Institution Are Behind Trips To Winnebago Mental Health Institute


Madison Police Chief Michael Koval said new admitting restrictions at the Mendota Mental Health Institute have forced his officers to spend hundreds of hours driving severely mentally ill individuals to a state institution in Oshkosh.

The Department of Health Services stopped accepting people in need of emergency civil detention at the Mendota facility in Madison in April. Koval said that since then, officers who otherwise would be patrolling the streets have driven 80 mentally ill individuals who pose a danger to themselves or the public to the Winnebago Mental Health Institute in Oshkosh. He asserted those trips may make a patient’s condition worse.

“It’s counterintuitive to me from a patient’s standpoint to think that they’re going to be better placed sitting in the back of a cramped squad car driving 150 miles from here, away from their infrastructure, family and support,” said Koval.

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A spokeswoman for the DHS said police have other local options for detaining people in a mental health crisis. The department has also urged the city to contract out the transportation of civil detainees to a private company if they must be sent to Winnebago.

The city filed a lawsuit against the state over the restrictions in November. A hearing on the state’s motion to dismiss the city’s lawsuit is scheduled for mid-March.