Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Community News Network

January 17, 2013

Mental health — not guns — the issue at hand

Law enforcement officials say mental health reform, better background checks needed

OTTUMWA — Law enforcement officials agree that the bigger issue in the discussion following the Sandy Hook shooting is mental health, not gun control.

Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa City, held a conference call with 13 sheriffs and police chiefs from eastern and southeastern Iowa Wednesday afternoon to absorb their ideas about what needs to be done following the Newtown, Conn. shooting last month.

Ottumwa Police Chief Jim Clark said school resource officers, the COPS program and JAG grants are critical.

“Banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines is strictly a feel-good measure. It won’t accomplish anything,” Clark said.

President Barack Obama announced a $500 million gun violence package Wednesday that includes universal background checks and bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

Loebsack said that he has not yet looked at Obama’s proposal and could not make any commitment right now as to how he would vote.

Clark noted that not everyone has mental health issues.

“Some people are just criminals and need to be treated like criminals, get put away and not let out,” Clark said. “Also if we look at Chicago, they have some of the most restrictive gun laws in the county but they have the highest numbers of murders with firearms.”

But Sigourney Police Chief Allan Glandon said sometimes, mentally ill people can become criminally insane people.

“Getting mentally ill people treatment seems to be our issue here, but we can’t access the system,” Glandon said. “There doesn’t seem to be enough psychologists out here in rural Iowa.”

He said law enforcement spends far too much time waiting for a bed to open up somewhere in the state for a mentally ill person.

Muscatine County Sheriff David White said a deputy picked up an individual on an emergency committal at 4 p.m. Friday and was stuck sitting with him at the hospital until 1 p.m. Monday before a bed opened up.

“It’s not a sheriff’s job to ... guard these individuals,” White said. “When there’s no bed for three days, that stretches our personnel, and we’re a much larger department than some of the small communities.”

Davis County Sheriff Dave Davis said people need to remember that firearms are not the only weapons that kill people.

“The high-capacity magazines ... I don’t believe they’re needed out here by the public but as for the type of weapon, if somebody chooses to target practice or hunt with an AR-15 or AR-10, I don’t have a problem with that,” Davis said. “They could do just as much damage with a hunting shotgun. The way I look at it, it is the person behind that weapon, whether it’s a shotgun or a knife, that really poses the biggest problem for our kids and our people within our communities.”

White said at a recent gun show he attended, lines wove out the door, even though AR-15-style weapons and high-capacity magazines have now doubled or tripled in price since the Sandy Hook shooting.

“With 300 million guns in the United States I think we’re just spinning wheels,” White said. “Drugs have been illegal for years and no one has problems getting those. Murder is illegal but it doesn’t stop folks from constantly going out and killing people.

“Let’s face it. Folks don’t need to have an assault rifle to kill people.”

Clark said there need to be mandatory design requirements for school buildings.

“We have many older schools here and the doors open out, not in,” he said. “So you can’t barricade the doors. And we don’t have automatic door closures. In fact, many of our doors in the schools don’t lock or don’t have locks.”

Iowa City Police Chief Sam Hargadine said school resource officers are desperately needed.

“Weapons issues are worthy of discussion themselves, but they have nothing to do with are we making our schools and our children safer,” Hargadine said.

Eldridge Police Chief David Kopatich said the North Scott School District employs the ALICE (Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate) Training program.

“In the past, what we’ve seen ... is schools simply go into lockdown mode, where students are locked up in a classroom, sitting and waiting,” Kopatich said. “In cases where we’ve had active shooters, we see history shows us it’s not a good idea to sit there and wait.

“Sitting and waiting for a gunman to randomly shoot everyone in the room is probably not a good option.”

Kopatich said the ALICE program teaches students and staff that “you need to survive this situation at any cost,” even if it means throwing a chair out of a window to escape.

He also said giving teachers the ability to lock their classrooms means “if there were a shooter in the hallway, it would allow [them] some time to take other action.”

White noted that some schools have panic buttons strategically located that will automatically close all interior doors if they’re pressed. But, those only exist in schools built in the last five to six years, he said.

Appanoose County Sheriff Gary Anderson said since his county is on the Missouri border, one of his biggest problems is completing background checks on people from other states and identifying if they have any mental health issues before they can obtain a concealed carry permit.

Davis said his concern also lies in those moving in from out of state.

“We are not receiving the information being needed for us to do proper background checks on the mental health status of individuals,” Davis said. “It’s kind of hard for us to know if somebody moves in here from Florida, whether they’re under a doctor’s care for mental issues in the past.”

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • 072214 Diamond Llama 1.jpg Llama on the loose corralled in Missouri town

    A llama on the lam cruised Main Street Tuesday before it mistook a resident’s fenced backyard for a place to grab a meal and freshen up.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • An oncologist uses scorpion venom to locate cancer cells

    Olson, a pediatric oncologist and research scientist in Seattle, has developed a compound he calls Tumor Paint. When injected into a cancer patient, it seems to light up all the malignant cells so surgeons can easily locate and excise them.

    July 22, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 2.00.42 PM.png VIDEO: Train collides with semi truck carrying lighter fluid

    A truck driver from Washington is fortunate to be alive after driving his semi onto a set of tracks near Somerset, Ky., and being struck by a locomotive, which ignited his load of charcoal lighter fluid.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 21, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 21, 2014

  • Starved Pennsylvania 7-year-old weighed only 25 pounds

    A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy authorities described as being so underweight he looked like a human skeleton has been released from the hospital.

    July 21, 2014

  • Malaysians wonder 'Why us?' after second loss of airline jet

    It was all too familiar. Grieving families rushing to airport. The flashing television graphics of a plane's last radar appearance. The uncomfortable officials before a heavy thicket of microphones.
    For many Malaysians, the disappearance of Flight 370 in March has been a long trauma from which the nation has not yet recovered.

    July 18, 2014

  • A quarter of the world's most educated people live in the 100 largest cities

    College graduates are increasingly sorting themselves into high-cost, high-amenity cities such as Washington, New York, Boston and San Francisco, a phenomenon that threatens to segregate us across the country by education.

    July 18, 2014

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 17, 2014

  • The terrible history of passenger planes getting shot out of the sky

    What is more clear is that, if initial reports are true, this would be the deadliest incident of a civilian passenger plane being shot down in modern memory. In some instances, the causes of the disaster are still shrouded in mystery. Here are some of the worst events.

    July 17, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • web_starbucks-cof_big_ce.jpg Starbucks sees more Apple-like stores after Colombia debut

    This week Starbucks opened its first location in Colombia — a 2,700-square-foot store with a heated patio, concrete columns, mirrors on the ceiling and walls of colorful plants.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: New story emerges about Texas children locked in hot car

    After footage showed Texas shoppers breaking the windows of a hot car to rescue children trapped inside, additional witnesses have come forward to correct the story behind what has become a viral video.

    July 16, 2014

Obituaries
Featured Ads
Poll

The Iowegian wants readers to think about the 2014 Appanoose County Fair. It starts Monday and wraps up on Saturday with a demolition derby at 8 p.m. So, the question of the week is, "How many days do you plan to go to the Appanoose County Fair?

A. I plan to attend all six days.
B. I plan to attend five days.
C. I plan to attend four days.
D. I plan to attend three days.
E. I plan to attend two days.
F. I plan to attend one day.
G. I do not plan to go to the fair this year.
     View Results
Iowegian on Facebook