Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

Dane County Executive Parisi Announces County Investment to Help Police Deal with Mental Health Emergencies

September 30, 2015
Stephanie Miller, 608.267.8823`
County Executive

MADISON- Today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced the creation of new Community Crisis Teams to assist local law enforcement and providers with around the clock mental health emergencies as part of his 2016 Dane County Budget.  Dane County will make an additional investment $82,000 into Journey Mental Health to provide a 24/7 resource to connect people in crisis with trained mental health professionals. 

“Too frequently mental health episodes now result in calls for law enforcement intervention,” said Parisi.  “Sometimes that results in situations unnecessarily escalating, placing police officers in difficult positions to defuse severe health problems.  Getting help to these individuals directly is not only a more effective means of treating their situations, but also a better use of our community's precious resources.”

Through additional county dollars in my budget and a restructuring at Journey, we can make Community Crisis Response more available to respond and aid police around the clock, 7 days a week.  That will help people with critical mental health challenges, their families, and law enforcement officials often now called in to respond.  According to The Police Chief Magazine, 7 to 10 percent of all police contacts are for situations involving persons with mental illness.

The Community Crisis Teams will work to divert people with mental illness from our jail.  Dane County wants to take a proactive intervention approach to hopefully de-escalate crisis situations.  The best treatment involves a multidisciplinary team, which includes the person in crisis, his/her support system, trained mental health service providers and law enforcement. The more immediate the intervention can be, the more likely we are to see a positive outcome. The need for this investment has been identified by several recent studies, law enforcement, providers, and other entities. 


To better respond to our County’s need, Dane County Executive Parisi added funding to increase clinical staff capacity in the Emergency Services Unit at Journey Mental Health Center. This will enable Journey Mental Health Center’s Emergency Services Unit to be more mobile and work in partnership with law enforcement and hospital emergency rooms.  Together, clinical assessments and safety planning can happen to better support and treat persons experiencing a mental  health crisis. 


This is just one piece of County Executive Parisi’s Mental Health focus of his 2016 budget. Earlier this week, County Executive Parisi announced the expansion of school mental health teams across Dane County. In addition to new resources for our youth, this summer Dane County announced the full expansion of the Comprehensive Community Services program which connects those who want assistance with providers, with state and federal resources covering the expenses of services delivered. 


To ensure this effort is maximized, Dane County’s 2016 budget creates a new “Mental Health Broker” position in the Department of Human Services. This social worker will serve to identify individuals who could benefit from available services like what’s offered through CCS and help facilitate enrollment.