Las Vegas Sun

January 31, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

Mental health not so easy to judge

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Reports of Metro Police Lt. Hans Walters underscore the mental health component of the current gun control debate. Walters shot and killed his wife, a former police officer, and his son and then set fire to their Boulder City home before taking his own life.

Most would agree police departments conduct exhaustive background checks, screening tests, training and safety procedures before authorizing officers to carry and deploy a number of firearms. Yet a former colleague comments to the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Walters “didn’t seem out of the ordinary at all,” adding that “Cops are pretty intuitive. They can tell when something’s wrong with someone. He seemed totally fine.” Yet two days later, something went horrifically wrong mentally to result in such a tragedy. The focus of the gun control debate should center on the specifics of mental health issues resulting in all violent behavior.

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  1. A comprehensive mental health evaluation by a psychiatrist would be beneficial. However, I don't recommend one that is paid by any government agency to do other evaluations.

    Just reading some of the comments here gives some obvious clues to some mental health problems that should prevent licensing any gun.

  2. Some police, very very few, suffer from a unique phenomenon. They deal with the dregs of society so long and so much that they lose faith in the inherent goodness of the majority of people. They become poisoned by their experiences. They can't distiguish the good guys from the bad anymore because they think all are bad, even the ones they love and cherish. Did Lt. Hans Walters suffer from this syndrome? How would we ever know? What are symptoms? What are the signs? Who knows?


  3. A typical legislative conundrum. Which is the "higher" right? The right of one person to life? The right of another person to privacy of health care information? The right of yet another person to carry any firearm he/she may be able to afford and to physically haul around? Given - you MUST rank these as #1, #2, and #3.

    Anyone with a definitive answer, please share and factually defend your answer. We may consider you in 2016.

  4. When I submitted this opinion I titled it: "Mental Health Not Gun Control."
    The Sun's Editorial staff decided on: "Mental health not so easy to judge."
    My intended focus was on Mental Health Issues resulting in ALL violent behavior. The exampled story cited more than one form of violent crimes: gun and arson. Yes I do agree with Bradley Chapline's assessment law enforcement's organizational flaws in over site and transparency with respect to mental health among it's ranks. As a father of a sworn peace officer this weighs heavily on my mind. Our most recent major gun related crimes however stems from a generally lack of recognition of existing mental health issues or doing anything about it by those closest to those committing the violence. Sandy Hook, Texas, New Mexico are just few recent examples of those ignoring the signs end losing their lives as well others for their non- attention. I am going suggest the mental health signs are not that hard to judge if we honest with ourselves and others.

  5. This is a tangent to the letter, but I agree with BChap that there have been times when the Sun has made subtle changes to a letter I have submitted.

    On the other hand, the title the Sun puts on a letter gives one insight into how other perceive the main thrust of a letter, which may be quite different than what was intended.

    My letters are now usually published verbatim, but the title is always what the Sun thinks is bets. As in the case of this letter, I tend to ignore the title and judge for myself what the author is saying.

  6. Thanks for reconsidering the intent of my opinion letter based on my posted comments.

  7. When the news is about a police officer committing a crime it's big news.When the same type of crime is committed by John Q.Public it's small news.

    Policemen and women are just as human as the next person,and have the same types of problems that we all share.They do a tremendous job protecting the public,as best they can.It's time to look at them just like everyone else,as people who sometimes have a problem.No one group has it all perfect.

  8. Why do we continue to ignore that many police suffer from PTSD and never get the treatment they should?

  9. To my fellow bloggers,
    there are lot of good suggestions and many of them have been tried before, and there has been success, but not always . Human nature is unpredictable and most of the time you can only hope for the best . Most of the time police officers emotionally recover quickly after seeing a traumatic event, but I can attest, that you never ever forget it. A sound, a scene, a word can all trigger that memory up, and you get to relive the entire event again. The trick is not to "act out" on that traumatic memory . I have never had too much faith in the psychiatry business to cure anybody , but I do believe that techniques can be taught and learned to properly cope with certain situations . Just an old veteran cop reflecting ,