CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

February 8, 2013

EDITORIAL: Lurking in every community


The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — Jim Lee Dykes is dead, a fact that few people in Alabama are mourning after this man’s deadly crime spree.

More than a week ago, Dykes shot and killed a school bus driver in south Alabama, then kidnapped a child and held him hostage for six days in a bunker. As negotiations to free the child deteriorated, law enforcement officers stormed the bunker and killed Dykes. The child, fortunately, was rescued without suffering physical harm.

Dykes was reportedly a strange individual who had beaten a neighbor’s dog to death and was known to make others uncomfortable with his menacing stare. Sadly, many communities across the nation have a Jimmy Lee Dykes roaming free.

The condition of an angry, dangerous soul such as Dykes presents a daunting challenge for any community. In his case, anyone who knew him felt something was wrong, but apparently there was no basis to arrest the man.

Where violence of this type is concerned, stronger funding and action from the mental healthcare community becomes necessary. Many law enforcement officials are not convinced that tighter gun restrictions would have an impact on stopping the terror associated with deranged people. The issue that many public safety officials see is the need to spot troubled individuals before they cross the line into violent behavior.

The mistake in creating a safer society is to focus on only one aspect of the issue. Arguments that citizens should have access to the same weapons as the military are unfounded. Surely, every family doesn’t need a bazooka.

Implementing better control on the weapons that are made available for purchase is sensible. And so is the need to improve funding for mental healthcare in an effort to identify potentially individuals.