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November 21, 2009
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Minn. paramedic says cops abuse law to detain people

By Lora Pabst
Star Tribune

A veteran paramedic sued his employer and Brooklyn Center Police Department on Thursday, alleging they have routinely abused a state law that allows police officers to bring mentally ill people to a hospital if they are a threat to themselves or others.

Nate Berg, 30, who has spent almost 10 years working as a paramedic in the metro area, said he has personally witnessed more than 200 incidents in which an individual's civil rights have been violated. He said local police agencies have been misusing the law as a way to temporarily force people into hospitals when they don't have enough information to support an arrest.

Under an emergency hold, doctors can detain an individual for up to 72 hours against their will. Hospitals are allowed to charge for their services. Berg claims his employer, North Memorial Medical Center, overlooks questionable holds because the activity generates significant revenue. He said the hospital also wants to protect its relationships with local police agencies.

Read full story: Paramedic: Cops abuse law to detain people

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