Rep. Beau LaFave has introduced legislation to reform the way involuntary psychiatric hospital patients are transported, which greatly affects northern Michigan communities.
The bill will create new standards and licensing requirements to allow parties other than law enforcement agencies and their officers to transport involuntary psychiatric patients to facilities across the state, if the third party and a county agree to do so.
“Because current law only allows for the transportation of these patients by law enforcement officers, a huge strain is placed on their agencies as yet another duty is added to an already long list,” said Rep. LaFave. “Especially in the Upper Peninsula, with most of the treatment facilities in the Lower Peninsula, our officers are required to be away from their jurisdictions for long stretches that can last for more than twenty hours.”
The plan would allow each county to establish a Mental Health Transportation Panel, which would include a county administrator, peace officer, judge, and mental health professional to advise the commission. Through the panel, along with new certification requirements, the bill ensures that anyone assuming the role of transport officer is qualified, regulated, and supervised.
“In one U.P. county, there is actually a need for other agencies to step in and watch the jail when their own officers are away on transport,” said Rep. LaFave. “The current law as it stands has only created more hassle for officers, agencies and patients in Michigan’s rural areas and Upper Peninsula communities. This plan only encompasses a small portion of the mental health crisis, but it will bring much-needed relief to everyone involved and ease the burden on northern counties who are simply trying to get these patients the help they need.”
Senator Ed McBroom has introduced an identical bill, SB 0101, in the Committee on Health Policy and Human Services, which will be taken up in a hearing this Thursday.
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