Madison mayor announces mental health solutions, condemns police actions during June response

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV)-- Madison's mayor is proposing several steps for ongoing efforts the City will take when it comes to mental health and emergency response.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway made the announcement on her blog posted Tuesday.

The proposals were created following a meeting on June 17 with community leaders and experts on youth, mental health, race, and emergency response after a video was released of how a Madison police officer handled a mental health call for an African-American teen.

The Madison Police Department launched an internal investigation following the June 3 incident.

"The officer’s actions may or may not have violated the law; and may or may not have violated MPD policy; however, police actions in this incident are not and will never be acceptable as best practice in the City of Madison," stated Rhodes-Conway.

The mayor said the proposed steps will employ long - and short-term change, inform a "holistic and multifaceted" training for emergency response, focus on trauma-informed care and institutional racism, facilitate community engagement, and increase transparency.

The initial steps include:

  • Black mental health practitioner involvement in Madison Police Department training.A preliminary internal meeting has already been held to advance this effort.

  • Explore the reduction of MPD involvement in response to mental health crises via different models, including the “mental health ambulance” model.Preliminary meetings have been had with the Fire Department to further explore the feasibility of their involvement, and research into options and models is continuing.

  • Partner with local education institutions to grow a Black practitioner pool for future community employment.

  • Appointment of Jacquelyn Boggess, Executive Director of the Center for Family Policy and Practice, to the Police and Fire Commission.

The mayor suggests creating a cross-departmental project team that would map out a communications and action plan during a community emergency.

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval released a statement reacting to the mayor's blog post. Koval said in part: "MPD has been and will continue to be receptive to undertaking systems improvements that promote transparency, accountability, and trust with the constituents we serve. So, the first three points that the Mayor listed are worthy of future review and collaboration; the fourth item refers to the Mayor exercising her prerogative in appointing someone to serve as a commissioner on the Police and Fire Commission and that is certainly within her purview."