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A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

Pentagon Police Officer Killed or, Dangerous With Any Bail

The recent murder of a Pentagon police officer was made more shocking upon learning the prior behavior of his killer. In April, twenty-seven-year old Austin W, Lanz was arrested for trespassing and burglary after breaking into a neighbor's home where security cameras recorded him leaving inappropriate pictures and messages in their mailbox. He took nothing but spoke of police aircraft flying over the neighborhood and his phone being tracked.


While being booked into jail and without provocation, he attacked and seriously injured two sheriff's deputies, then asked that his restraints be removed so he could fight the deputies one-by-one. After being charged with aggravated battery on police, making a terrorist threat, and rioting in a penal institution, he was released on $30,000 bail, ordered to submit to a mental health evaluation, and barred from using alcohol or drugs and possessing firearms. For all the good this did!

While hindsight has 20/20 vision as the adage insists, one can't help wondering why Mr. Lanz wasn't hospitalized or jailed since the failure of court restraint against impulsive, disturbed people is countless as evidenced by the killing of the divorced by their former partners and road rage and street assaults on strangers though these can't be wholly stopped. A psychiatrist once told me of a colleague eating in the cafeteria who had been attacked by a patient with whom he had no prior contact.

The only possible explanation for these frequent crimes is that many still don't believe that some people are, perhaps temporarily, inherently dangerous. Failing to respect the power of the unconscious over behavior despite its continuing reminders.

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