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Madison mayor announces steps to re-evaluate mental health and emergency response

MADISON (WKOW) — The city of Madison is re-evaluating its mental health and emergency response for individuals following an incident in June where police were accused of using excessive force while trying to subdue a teen having a mental health crisis.

In a blog post today, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway wrote that, “police actions in this incident are not and will never be acceptable as best practice in the City of Madison.”

Rhodes-Conway was referring to the incident June 3 after a complaint was filed with the police department alleging excessive use of force by officers trying to subdue the teen.

Home surveillance video of the incident, that was shared heavily on social media, showed officers struggling with the 17-year-old after responding to put him into protective custody in order to take him to a hospital for evaluation.

The video also shows officers attempting to place a mesh spit hood on the teen to protect themselves from fluids, police said.

In response, Police Chief Mike Koval launched an investigation, and in June Rhodes-Conway convened a meeting with city leaders and experts on the topics of youth, mental health, race and emergency response.

In her blog post today, Rhodes-Conway wrote that, “the fundamental duty of police is to serve humanity. Police are required to only use force that is reasonable and necessary, and it is my belief that we must do better.”

Following her meeting with community leaders, Rhodes-Conway outlined the following actions the city will take to address community concerns:

  1. Black mental health practitioner involvement in Madison Police Department training. A preliminary internal meeting has already been held to advance this effort.
  2. 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.
  3. Partner with local education institutions to grow a Black practitioner pool for future community employment.
  4. Appointment of Jacquelyn Boggess, Executive Director of the Center for Family Policy and Practice, to the Police and Fire Commission, which provides direct oversight to Madison’s Police and Fire Departments.


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