Beverly Anderson of Milwaukee tried hundreds of times over the past few years to get her husband, AC, to go back on his medicine for mental illness, but no matter how many times she called 911 and tried to get police or paramedics to take him to the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex, he would always refuse. Police told her that unless he threatened to hurt himself or someone else there wasn’t anything they could do. Anderson, 66, was found frozen to death on his front steps last Friday, three days after his wife begged police to get him to a hospital.
Milwaukee County has a Mobile Crisis Unit, a team that includes a psychologist, nurse and police officer who are trained to go into the community and deal with people in psychiatric crisis. The team was never called to the Anderson home. Jim Kubicek, the acting director of Milwaukee County’s Behavioral Health Division, said the law limits what police can do with a patient who is not obviously in danger. “It is what it is,” Kubicek said. “Those are the standards we have to work with.” He noted the county’s social services can be accessed by calling 211. Beverly said she did not know that, and police did not suggest that she call that number.