Lawmakers advance bill to study Montana’s response to mental illness

John MacDonald was once on a police ride-along when someone called 911 on a belligerent man outside a bar. When officers arrived, they knew the person by name. He wasn’t drunk — he was off the medication for his mental health disorder.

MacDonald, a lobbyist for the city of Missoula, said officers took the man to the hospital and stayed for hours to make sure he got help.

“It’s a side of law enforcement I hadn’t seen, and I think it’s a growing issue,” he told state lawmakers.

Following testimony like MacDonald’s, the House Judiciary Committee backed a request Tuesday to study policies that address safety and social justice concerns around homelessness and substance use or mental health disorders.