A Wyoming community is mourning the unexpected loss of a police officer who took his own life this week, and the department is attributing his death to the effects of job-related post-traumatic stress disorder.
Casper Police Lt. Dan Dundas committed suicide Monday afternoon, the department said in a statement that was released Wednesday. A 13-year veteran of the force, he had been part of "a wide variety of both positive and negative events, with citizens, victims, and suspects alike."
"Lieutenant Dundas had experienced several traumatic events in his career, all of which, individually and collectively, adversely impacted him in a multitude of ways," the department stated. "An abundance of resources were brought to bear on his behalf, at the department level, through his family, and indeed, by he himself. Despite these sincere efforts, our beloved friend, father, son, husband, and community hero took his own life as a direct result of the experiences he had been subjected to while in the service of our community."
Before joining the department, Dundas graduated from the University of Wyoming. As a police officer, he had become a familiar face among residents for his community outreach work, and news of his death shocked and saddened many of them.
"Of all the police officers I know, I would say he was the biggest advocate for that push to make policing more community-oriented," City Council Member Kyle Gamroth told the Casper Star-Tribune. "It's a shame."
Dundas had participated in the annual National Night Out and the city's Coffee with a Cup events. He and City Council Member Amber Pollock also worked with Casper Pride to tackle substance abuse and mental health issues in the city's LGBTQ population.
"It was just really nice to talk to him and feel like someone understood," Pollock said. "He was compassionate. … It felt really good to know that there were people on the police force who were dedicated in that way. It's a real loss for a lot of folks."
City Manager Carter Napier, who had worked with Dundas over their careers, echoed those sentiments.
"He always had the goodwill of the citizens at the forefront of his mind," Napier said. "He was just a stand-up guy. As a city and as a community, we're going to miss him. The loss will be deeply felt."
The department has not released many details about his death out of respect for his family. The agency also pointed out that despite the training its officers undergo, "they are, first and foremost, humans," and a stoic, outward demeanor can hide turmoil inside.
"Though our hearts are broken, we choose to acknowledge the difficult nature of the profession to which Danny had, with his characteristic gusto and larger-than-life personality, diligently dedicated himself," the department stated. "This is a tough job. Only the best even attempt to do it. Yet, such service to community comes at a cost, oftentimes at a heavy personal cost, and, all too frequently, those costs can be extremely steep."