The 'War on Drugs' Has Run Amok . . .
This is in response to your story on Howard County's tactical squad. Once again, we see the Fourth Amendment being trampled. It seems that anything is "reasonable" if it is done in the name of the failure called "the war on drugs."
There is a bill being considered in the Senate (S.3) that will effectively repeal the Fourth Amendment. It seems that law-abiding citizens are constantly being asked to give up their rights in the name of the drug war, yet the problem continues to worsen.
A recent "Cronkite Report" on the drug war stated that $1 spent on treatment and prevention reduces drug use as much as $7 spent on reducing supply or punishment. Currently, the federal government spends $15 billion on the drug war. Much of the money is spent on supply reduction with as little as 15 percent going to education and treatment. Our prisons are filled with mostly non-violent drug users while violent felons are being released early.
It is time to stop treating drug use as a crime and treat it as a health problem. If we provide truthful education to our children and offer treatment for people who want to get clean, we could reduce the demand for drugs. It is obvious that the current approach is not working. Please help stop S.3 and let's work toward new ideas for a sensible war on drugs.
. . . No, the War Rages On
Once again, the criminals and defense attorneys shift the blame from their law-breaking actions and misconduct to the legal and necessary actions of the police.
It is unfortunate that Eleanor Johnson is afraid of the Howard County Police Department ("Drug Raid Tactics Criticized," article, July 2.) Ms. Johnson's fears are misguided. In fact, she should have been afraid of the two people who were allegedly utilizing her residence for possessing and distributing drugs. Drug use is synonymous with larcenies, robberies, territorial disputes and homicides.
Of course, the American Civil Liberties Union and defense attorneys interviewed viewed the Howard County's Tactical Squad strategies as inappropriate and offensive. How do they view drug use and the associated crime? Yes, "inappropriate" and "offensive" are two good descriptions of the violence, anarchy and mayhem associated with drug use.
Protection is now requested for our tot lots where drug use, alcohol violations and destruction of property are occurring. Even our children and their play areas are not free from this pestilence. Maybe the often used term "War On Drugs" is accurate after all.
Our police undergo countless hours of training with the weapons they employ, the tactics they use and the rules of the game. Yes, our police are bound by the Constitution of the United States, state standards of certification, and departmental rules and regulations.
What is the criminal-drug element bound by? Absolutely nothing. There is no criteria, no training, no standards and no ethics. Many involved in the drug culture are armed and will resort to violence to protect their interests. The drug culture employs pit bull watchdogs, body armor, police scanners and automatic guns to pursue their trade. Its only motives are greed, violence and intimidation.
The majority of Howard County residents are law-abiding citizens who cherish the low crime rate of the county. It is encouraging to know that the Howard County Police Department has a zero-tolerance drug policy. If drug-using criminals don't like the treatment they receive from the Howard County Police Department, let them relocate to other jurisdictions where drug use is condoned, tolerated or allowed to flourish.
The Howard County Police Department is always welcome in my neighborhood and my house. Criminals and drugs are not welcome in my county, my neighborhood, my playground, my house, my school, etc.
Craig M. Pope
Save Camp Ilchester
I was delighted to see your July 11 article describing the campaign to save Camp Ilchester Girl Scout camp in Ellicott City. Howard County Girl Scouts are very fortunate to have a camp property so conveniently located, but Howard County girls are not the only ones who benefit from Camp Ilchester. Camp Ilchester is the closest camp for Girl Scouts in Baltimore City, Carroll County and a large part of Baltimore County. If half of the camp is sold, many girls, not just Howard County girls, will experience a real loss. Almost all of the wooded area will disappear, and the camp won't feel like a camp anymore. Rather it will seem like two buildings with a large yard.
The Save Our Camp campaign is very committed to raising the money to purchase this camp land so that Girl Scouts of Central Maryland will have the money it needs for a headquarters without having to sacrifice the camp. Your article implied that if the money is raised, the restrictions put on the money might make the gift unacceptable to the board of directors. Every person I have spoken to who is associated with the campaign believes it will come up with an agreement which will preserve the land and which will meet the very reasonable concerns of the board of directors. Save Our Camp is delighted that Girl Scouts of Central Maryland supports its fund-raising efforts.
The general public as well as the Girl Scout community can help save Camp Ilchester by supporting its fund-raising. For information, call 410-381-0335.
$Virginia Land Himmelheber