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Court: Police Illegally Released Deputy's Records to Sheriff's Office

AP via YellowBrix

June 17, 2010

MADISON, Wis. — A court says a police department illegally released the mental health records of a deputy sheriff who shared thoughts of killing two supervisors and himself during therapy.

Milwaukee County Deputy Sheriff Scott Kuhtz made the statements during a therapy session in Wauwatosa in 2005. Believing the threat was real, his therapist called police. Kuhtz was taken into custody and detained on an emergency basis for treatment.

The Wauwatosa Police Department later gave the sheriff’s department copies of the police report and a statement justifying his emergency detention to let his colleagues know about the threat. Kuhtz was later suspended for 30 days.

The District 1 Court of Appeals agreed with Kuhtz that the release violated a law protecting the confidentiality of treatment records.

  • Steve_mcqueen_max50


    about 5 years ago


    And people wonder why Police Officers "Refuse to talk with a Shrink" ! So much for relieving stress !

  • Knightthinblueline_25_-_copy_max50


    about 5 years ago


    I believe a big time lawsuit is in the works, and rightly so. We're all given information on our EAP services. Sometimes the job becomes overwhelming and it's nice to know we have an outlet for professional help. It's understood this outlet we seek is totally confidential. This story disturbs me for many reasons.

  • Thinker_max50


    about 5 years ago


    What was the suspension for? Threatening to kill others or yourself is the exemption to doctor-patient confidentiality and doctors are obligated to call police in most if not all states, but does a police agency then have a right to divulge that information to another agency, and if so for what purpose.

    Bottom line comes back to the suspension and the way the Sheriff's Department handled the matter. Was the deputy medically and psychologically cleared? Did the Sheriff's Department offer support and treatment before discipline? What exactly was the suspension for? What purpose does the suspension serve? After 30 days is everything back to status quo? A lot of unanswered questions here...

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago

    If it was a doctor, there's that doctor/patient confidentiality thing... Does that apply to therapists?? I have no idea.. The guy obviously needed help, but the records being released leaves me wondering...

  • Team_opca_max50


    about 5 years ago


    I agree this is dangerous territory. It could have been handled much differently. Now this guy isn't going to trust or open up to anyone. Who would blame him. The department could have been notified by the Dr. the guy is unstable and a possible threat and not release the medical records. The department then could have brought the guy in, placed him on admin leave and ordered an agency mental evaluation. Then take it from there.

  • Nintendo_max50


    about 5 years ago


    After hearing about the NJ State Police officer that just killed himself, I look at this situation a little differently. I certainly think he needs to seek further mental health counseling. If we ruin this guy's life because he opened up to a therapist, the next guy won't talk and we won't know there is a problem until it is far too late. This is scary territory...

  • 1979_max50


    about 5 years ago


    Hummm, not sure how I feel about this. If the Dr. felt it was a real threat then yes you have to take action as the guy IS armed and trained to carry out those threats easily. Now as to being taken into custody by the SO and releasing his mental health information, not so much. They could have and should have taken him into the Lt's Office and then disarmed him and taken him into protective custody. The guy obvious has some serious mental problems and he was at least getting help and opening up about his problem. What's going to happen to the next person who admits to his shrink he is or has considered suicide or even killing someone else, they going to come and arrest him and ruin his reputation? The person is going to learn from this and not seek help and maybe follow through with those thoughts.

  • Spartan_cops_max50


    about 5 years ago


    This guy needs a new job.............

  • Justice-400_max50


    about 5 years ago


    We're given nothing but a tiny snippet of what happened or what was said in his treatment, so I wouldn't draw any conclusions on his mental health. He is getting treatment, and the department actually made things worse by doing this, because now he won't feel safe talking about what is going on. Who knows what the officer has gone through to make him feel like he needs to talk to a professional. Hopefully he'll get the help he needs unhindered.

  • Donut_max50


    about 5 years ago


    I agree with the fact that it was wrong to release the records to his employer. I also think that this guy carries a gun and his co workers deserve to know that he is unstable. So I say sometimes you have to do something wrong to do something right.

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