Letters to the Editor

Police image

August 20, 2012


To the editor:

Upon reading the recent article in the Journal-World detailing former police chief Olin’s encounter with the police department after he discharged a firearm within city limits no less than five times, I couldn’t help but question what role Olin’s prominent past played in how this situation was handled or, shall I say, ignored. Regardless of what medical problems Olin faced/faces or how much credible evidence demonstrates that his actions were the product of a medicinal reaction, I have to wonder how many shots I could discharge within city limits without receiving as much as a ticket?

Whether this special treatment truly exists or is only perceived, for the Lawrence Police Department, the timing of this couldn’t be worse. With half the public still harboring distaste at the ticket-fixing scandal, and the other half displeased with the massive multimillion-dollar tax-funded expansion request amidst the worst recession we’ve seen in 70 years, this latest negative publicity will just get added to the pile.

As an outsider viewing all of this, I’m reminded of a saying a very wise mentor of mine imparted upon me once: “In this life we make our own luck.” Perhaps when the Lawrence Police Department grows tired of their negative public image, they will begin to take a course of action that serves to remedy that.


Hudson Luce 5 years, 9 months ago

Criminalizing mental illness isn't the way we should be going in Douglas County, not for the poor who can't get access to professional help, nor for Ron Olin, who presumably can. Jail is not a compassionate place, and for those with mental health issues, it isn't an appropriate place. LMH needs a psych ward, we need to stop putting the mentally ill in jail.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 9 months ago

Thank you, doctor. But let me ask you this, as Mr. Olin's treating psychiatrist, I say that because you're comfortable giving him a psychiatric diagnosis, but in so doing, aren't you violating the patient doctor confidentially agreements.

Unless your patient Mr. Olin waived that confidentially. Or unless you're not his treating psychiatrist is which case you're making an assumption about his mental health. Maybe, and this just occurred to me, maybe you're not even a psychiatrist in which case you're not even qualified to determine whether or not Mr. Olin suffered from a mental health episode or if he just got drunk and fired off five rounds into his ceiling.

It's a legitimate question for citizens to ask if the police responded in a professional manner, which would include whether or not preferential treatment was afforded one of their own.

Hudson Luce 5 years, 9 months ago

“According to the recording, at one point during the 19-minute incident, a police supervisor at the scene asked a dispatcher to provide a summary of what she knew. “OK, we got a 911 hangup. I called it back. I got the female. She said he’s on medication having a reaction. She said he was delusional, and he was yelling Signal 14 (police code for officer in distress). While I was on the phone with her telling her that we are on the way, she said he was out of it because of some medication reaction,” the dispatcher said. “I did hear the gun go off a couple of times. She told me he was shooting and to hurry, and she did hang up.” About 40 seconds later, a woman emerged from the home, and police said she was with officers, according to the conversation between the dispatcher and police. The dispatcher soon made contact with Olin. “I’ve got Ron on the phone, and he’s saying that his wife was just kidnapped,” the dispatcher said. ‘‘ … He’s telling me that two men just kidnapped his wife. He’s telling me he’s in the back bedroom, and he doesn’t have a weapon is what he’s saying.” During part of the conversation, the dispatcher said Olin was worried someone would try to break his back window and he would get shot in the back if he left the house. The dispatcher also said Olin told her “the bad guy gave him a weapon.” Then she said: “He dropped the phone and told me a guy’s in the kitchen.” (from http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2012/aug...)

What part of this does not sound like mental illness? And it's obvious from the story that his wife thought he was delusional, not that he "just got drunk" and decided to act like Hunter Thompson. It pays to read the article before you make comments.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 9 months ago

I did read the article. I also noted that the police handling of this case was not exactly according to the book. It did not represent normal procedures that should have been followed had an individual been having a delusional reaction to medication and then shooting up the place. Which leads me to question whether or not he was in fact having that reaction or if the police were in fact giving some sort of preferential treatment to one of their own. Let's remember, the letter writer here is asking for answers to legitimate questions. At this point in time, it's too early to be saying anything for certain. It's too early for you, I or his wife to be breaking out the DSM and saying anything with any sort of certainty. The only thing we know for certain about his mental health at the time of this incident is that we don't know what the status of his mental health was. And to pretend that we do is presumptuous.

Hudson Luce 5 years, 9 months ago

Well, it's pretty obvious - or should be - that he wasn't acting in the same space of consensus reality that the rest of us are, in this case. "About 40 seconds later, a woman emerged from the home, and police said she was with officers, according to the conversation between the dispatcher and police. The dispatcher soon made contact with Olin. “I’ve got Ron on the phone, and he’s saying that his wife was just kidnapped,” the dispatcher said. ‘‘ … He’s telling me that two men just kidnapped his wife."

So are you advocating that LKPD should go in the house, guns drawn, take him down by whatever means are necessary, and then cart him off to the Douglas County Jail? Is that really what you're in favor of doing? Because if it is, that's pretty mean-spirited. How is doing that going to help anything?

57chevy 5 years, 9 months ago

I'm not sure that a majority of the community is distrustful of the police, but it is not a small minority either. I guess being the police chief had nothing to do with the response from the police, but I would feel better if somebody else that doesn't own a barbershop ,bad bar-b-que restaurant, or was ex-police got anyhting like decent treatment. Everytime I've been burgled (that's a lot, for those who want to know), I have been frankly apalled at the lack of an attempt to care by the responding officers. The earlier commenter seems to think that any criticism of the police lies in a distaste for authority, mine lies in poor job performance. Instead of armored cars and cameras downtown (the only place in Lawrence that already has a decent police presence), maybe we could get a few police to investigate actual crimes? What a concept. I can't afford basketball tickets, but I'll get them a football ticket or two for catching the meth-head who is robbing me. Maybe a camera on my block?

Bob Forer 5 years, 9 months ago

The LPD killed Greg Sevier, who was suffering from mental illness. They did the wrong thing. The police handled the Olin situation quite differently, and perhaps did the right thing. (I can't say for sure, as I am not privy to all of the facts of the Olin situation.)

Mr. Herbert raises a thoroughly legitimate question, i.e., was the Olin situation handled differently from other similar situations because of his former position as Chief of Police? And if the answer is yes, the next logical question, of course, is who among the Lawrence citizentry receives preferential treatment from the police department?

deec 5 years, 9 months ago

Except mentally ill homeless people who are well known to the police are routinely manhandled and arrested on trumped-up charges. Sevier was murdered for being suicidal. If you behaved like the chief did, you'd have been lucky to live to receive a diagnosis. At the least, you'd have been ticketed or arrested.

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