After a three-year moratorium on the development of more community-based residential facilities, commonly called group homes, Fort Atkinson Police Chief Adrian Bump presented the 2019 group home call data to the city council Tuesday.
Fort Atkinson has one of the highest per-capita numbers of group homes in the state, which has put a strain on police and emergency resources. That led to the moratorium and the development of the Fort Atkinson Adult Care Consortium (FACC), which aims to improve the relationship between the group homes and first responders.
Bump said the call data goes from 2010 to the present, with the police department seeing a record number of calls this year.
“The work has been positive,” Bump said. “But the levels are staying up. CBRF calls are the highest ever.”
Bump said fire and EMS calls to the homes have gone down, but it’s been difficult to lower the number of police calls. If this business — which is not a member of the FACC — does not get the chronic calls under control, the city will cite it, Bump said.
Councilperson Jude Hartwick said the enforcement aspect is important because it sends the message that the city is serious about the issue.
Bump also said calls to the group homes can often be a massive strain on time and resources.
“Mental health calls take a lot of time,” Bump said.
Mental health calls, designated a Chapter 51, can take up to 20 hours of police department time, Bump said.
While the number of these calls have gone down since there was more than 50 in 2014, the city still needs the work of the FACC and help from the state to improve mental health care in Wisconsin, Bump said.