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Republican mayoral candidate Alan Walden says in his commentary ("Baltimore must not relinquish its streets," Oct. 3) that it is "imperative that the public at large get past its perception that police are an 'occupying army.' They are the sworn guardians of the streets; their job is to preserve and protect."

No, Mr. Walden, it is not the public at large that views police this way, it is communities that have been repeatedly ill-served and, at times, targeted by law enforcement. If affluent whites in "nice" neighborhoods were treated the way black people have been, they too would fear and mistrust the police.

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Janet L. Goldstein, Baltimore

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