For now, we are explaining the state’s decision to end access to Mendota Mental Health Institute for emergency detentions of patients in the custody of the Madison Police Department as an unintended consequence of its desire for efficiency and cost effectiveness.

However, seeing now the consequences of this policy change for both people with mental illness in a very vulnerable state, and on the responsible operation of the Madison Police Department, surely the state will change its decision.

The city of Madison should not have to sue the state to make that happen.

Forcing Madison police officers to drive two and half hours both ways to take a person in crisis to the Winnebago facility is both dangerous and inefficient. Frankly the first is most important.

A person having a mental health crisis needs immediate care, not a long car ride in handcuffs. But having two police offers out of town for five hours isn’t very smart either.

There has to be a better solution. We’re sure the state Department of Health Services must want to help find that solution. But if not – Chief Koval is right – and the city should sue.