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SawiskyAfter a 27-year-old man having mental health issues punched another man, the 27-year-old had difficulty getting help from Racine County Human Services and Wheaton Franciscan Hospital-All Saints, and ended up in jail, according to a criminal complaint by the Racine County District Attorney’s Office.

Jacob Sawisky, 27, of Racine, was charged by the Racine County District Attorney’s Office for a misdemeanor count of battery, and disorderly conduct. If convicted, Sawisky faces up to five years in prison and/or fined up to $11,000.

According to a criminal complaint, Racine Police responded to a civil trouble between a man and Sawisky at 3:50 p.m. Saturday, July 25 at a residence in the 2800 block of Wright Avenue. The man told police Sawisky called him a rapist and punched him in the face with a closed fist. The officer asked Sawisky what had happened, but he did not answer the question and just looked around the room. He then began to “dance wildly” in the kitchen and the officer arrested Sawisky because he believed Sawisky was either on some type of drugs or was having a mental health issue.

During the arrest, Sawisky said he kicked “the rapist” and there was another one running around, but he hadn’t caught him yet. He told the officer that he “sits on the swing to lure the rapist in so that he can kill him” and he hears voices. A relative of Sawisky’s told police that he has mental health issues, but she couldn’t tell him what he was diagnosed with. The woman also told the officer he doesn’t take his medicine.

The officer took Sawisky to Wheaton Franciscan-All Saints’ emergency room where a Racine County Human Services worker evaluated Sawisky’s mental health. Under Wisconsin state law, a county can compel a person to get mental health help through the chapter 51.15 law if they are deemed a threat to themselves or others. The employee, however, was able to convince Sawisky to voluntarily admit himself into a mental health facility and the employee told the officer the county would not chapter Sawisky.

The officer, however, noted in his report that while giving a urine sample, Sawisky was “kneeling on the bed with his pants down banging himself against the wall. This did not appear to be normal behavior of a person without mental health problems.”

The employee again told the officer that Sawisky was voluntarily admitting himself and the employee left the hospital. However, hospital staff told the officer that “they were not able to find an open voluntary bed for Sawisky.”

The officer contacted HSD many times and told them that there wasn’t a bed for Sawisky, but HSD refused to chapter him. The officer still believed Sawisky was a “danger to others” and he was a chapter candidate, and he arrested Sawisky for battery. He was also out on bond for disorderly conduct and bail jumping.

The officer also noted that while he was taking Sawisky to jail, he had a two person conversation with himself saying that he would take the jail staff’s Taser and “beat the (expletive) out of him.”

This case underscores an issue that the county has been trying to address.

According to state law, if a person is willing to seek help voluntarily and they are willing to engage in their care, the county cannot detain that person and they have to look for bed space within community for mental health help. But Wheaton Franciscan-All Saints Hospital has lost several doctors and a nurse practitioner over the past year and only designated staff can admit a patient. At one point, in late June the entire mental health unit had been shutdown for a week after one of the doctors had left, said Hope Otto, Racine County Human Services Director.

“If you are asking if we are meeting with them on a regular basis to resolve this in cases where emergency detentions are used, the answer is yes,” Otto said.

Otto couldn’t comment specifically on Sawisky’s case, but the county uses various risk assessment tools to decide whether someone should be chaptered, When people voluntarily admit themselves that is preferred since the county has to cover the cost of care for emergency detention services when someone is deemed a threat to themselves or others.

“Those decisions are made based on those assessment tools, but we are assuring the safety of our clients by helping them to find the best place for people and we’re handling those cases appropriately,” Otto said.

Michelle Goggins, aging and disability services manager for Racine County, said the rules around who gets chaptered are pretty firm, but sometimes when mental illness is combined with drug use things can get difficult to manage because recovery isn’t a given.

“Just because a law enforcement official thinks you are shady, doesn’t mean you are and that you should be arrested,” Goggins said. “The law is pretty clear about emergency detentions. Yes there are situations where people would benefit from getting help… but they don’t meet the threshold for emergency detentions. It’s a balancing act and state law gives counties the responsibility and the accountability to do that.”

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.