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Task force recommends changes to Wisconsin's mental health laws

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MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Mental health professionals would be given the authority to send people into emergency detention, under a series of proposals from a state task force. 

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos created the task force to suggest changes to the state's mental health laws. 

Wisconsin is one of just five states in which police officers are the only ones who can detain mental suspects in emergencies. The expanded authority to medical personnel would be allowed only in Milwaukee County at first. 

After two years, it could then be expanded statewide. The task force also recommended that families have a way to request emergency detention if county officials refuse to act. 

Among other things, the state would provide grants to crisis intervention teams to respond to concerns about people with mental health issues. Also, pilot programs would be set up in four counties to help inmates sign up for BadgerCare Plus and other benefits when they're freed. 

The goal there is to reduce the numbers of repeat offenders. 

The Assembly could take up the measures before the end of the year, if a bill is drafted.

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