Assembly OKs bill clarifying emergency detention options

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state Assembly approved a bill Wednesday designed to help police better deal with time-consuming emergency mental health detentions.

Officers have complained for years that they spend too much time waiting in emergency rooms for doctors to clear detainees for transport and driving them to facilities.

The bipartisan bill would clarify state law to expressly allow police departments to contract with other law enforcement agencies, ambulance companies or other third parties to transport emergency detainees to facilities. The measure also requires state health officials to seek any federal approval they may need to provide Medicaid reimbursement to counties for transportation costs. If they obtain approval or discover they don't need any they would have to reimburse the counties for their costs.

The Assembly passed the bill on a voice vote. It goes next to the state Senate.