Police Department's major drug operations tackling city...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Police Department's major drug operations tackling city problem

Hats off to the Baltimore Police Department for its drug-sting operation, Judge Joseph H. H. Kaplan's opinions notwithstanding ("Drugs: the city-suburban connection," June 21). I suggested such a program in The Sun years ago.

Judge Kaplan suggests that police "spend their time arresting violent offenders" as they do in Boston. Much of the violent crime in Baltimore is the result of drug dealers' fights over turf. Drug stings will, perhaps, slow down the activity and maybe help to end it. To me, this experiment is worth the effort.

There is one slight problem -- addressing the probable-cause issue. The case can be made stronger by allowing buyers in sting operations to make the purchases with the real McCoy. That would prevent a legal defense that no drugs were actually acquired. Then arrests can be made for possession, and the city would be able to confiscate money used in the purchase and perhaps the vehicles of those seeking to buy drugs.

One of the addicts quoted in your paper says, "If it wasn't for people like me, the dealers wouldn't be in business." That says it all. If pressure is put on the buyers, it may force many of them to seek treatment for their addictions.

Also, this business of requiring that a person has to have a certain amount of crack to prosecute for a felony is ridiculous. One vial or 10 is as bad as 30 or more. Drug dealers can count and make certain they stay under the amount required for a felony case.

Richard L. Lelonek

Baltimore

Addicts need more slots in treatment centers

Drug users need to get help. There are two reasons why people are doing drugs: substance abuse is a disease, and it's very easy to get drugs.

A relative of mine is a recovering heroin addict. He had everything -- a family, a great job and a great home. Now he has nothing. Fortunately, he is changing his life. He is in rehab, although it was difficult getting him into a program. Many of the centers are closed. People who want help getting off the streets can't get it.

We need to open centers to help get drug users off the streets.

Connie Schimminger

Timonium

Heroin programs in U.S. are practicing bad medicine

I read the summary of the Swiss heroin research, and it is quite clear that Sally Satel doesn't have a clue about drugs, drug addiction or the effects of drug prohibition ("Test of 'heroin maintenance' may be launched in Baltimore," June 10).

The Swiss program is light years ahead of the United States. Crime among addicts in the Swiss program dropped 60 percent in the first six months, HIV-AIDS transmission fell off the charts and there were no overdoses.

Permanent employment among patients doubled, homelessness declined and the Swiss government figures it has saved about $45 per addict per day by not using the prohibitionist approach. The Swiss are so pleased with the results that a 70 percent majority voted to make heroin maintenance a national policy.

Dr. Satel cannot point to any drug program in the United States that remotely approaches the positive results of the Swiss program. Insisting on continuing our failed drug prohibition policy is not only foolish, it's medical malpractice.

Redford Givens

Mill Valley, Calif.

Grateful for Chapman's bid, developer should accept it

We are truly grateful to Gov. Parris N. Glendening for his decision to purchase the environmentally sensitive 2,300-acre historic property on the Potomac, Chapman's Landing.

Chapman Forest and Mattawoman Creek and its tributaries are well worth saving -- Mattawoman because of the fish that spawn in the river (herring and yellow perch) and Chapman Forest because of the bald eagles, songbirds and the multitude of endangered plants and animals that inhabit the land.

As ecologists, we are pleased that Maryland's governor understands the importance of the parcel to the health of Mattawoman Creek and the significance of preserving the environmental integrity of the property as a whole.

By refusing to accept the state's fair market value offer for the property, the developer, Legend Properties Inc., is being greedy. We hope that Legend will reconsider.

We understand that the developer is clearing some of Chapman Forest while continuing to negotiate with the governor. This is deplorable behavior on the part of the developer.

Ann Powel

Chris Jones

Fairfax, Va.

Robert Kaufman talk show would be thoughtful radio

The A. Robert Kaufman feature ("Class warrior," June 16), discussing WEAA's refusal to experiment with a one-hour weekly radio talk show, makes me wonder whether the station's managers are dense, shallow or masochistic.

Dense, for not recognizing that Bob Kaufman is one of Baltimore's true treasures; shallow, for ignoring the breadth of experience and depth of analysis he would bring to public dialogue; masochistic, for denying Mr. Kaufman a chance and thus denying their station at least one hour of sterling discourse.

Too much of talk radio is surface banter and shallow thought.

Orin W. Dooley Jr.

Ellicott City

Religion and gun shop make a bad combination

"Where religion, guns mix" (June 20) is a very disturbing story. Rob Shifflet's comments that "modern spiritual warfare requires contemporary weaponry" is directly contradictory to Paul's teaching in the New Testament: "For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds."

Mr. Shifflet has every right to operate his business as he sees fit. However, his defense is out of context with the New Testament. It is rather ironic that his other job involves saving lives as a Baltimore County paramedic while his business facilitates taking lives.

Clyde R. Shallenberger

Baltimore

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We are disturbed by the implication of the article "Where religion, guns mix" that Christians need to use deadly weapons to promote spiritual and religious interests.

If Rob Shifflet, owner of the Christian Soldier gun shop, truly believes that "modern spiritual warfare requires contemporary weaponry," as the article states, we have one question: Against whom does he propose to use these contemporary weapons?

Daniel Gutkin

Susan Gutkin

Baltimore

Separation of church, state is not constitutional

I was amazed and gratified by the publication of Douglas W. Kmiec's thoughtful piece on school choice and religion ("School choice is religion neutral," Opinion Commentary, June 21).

As he points out, the metaphorical "wall of separation" to which the media is so fond of alluding is not a part of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights but rather a private musing by Thomas Jefferson.

What the Bill of Rights does say -- and which we rarely find quoted anywhere -- is: "Congress shall make no law preventing the establishment of religion, nor the free exercise thereof."

But ever since Madalyn Murray O'Hair prevailed, Congress has been very busy making such laws. And until now, the Supreme Court has wrongfully upheld them.

Franklin W. Littleton

Baltimore

Candidates, voters avoid the specifics in campaign

Your editorial "Out of the starting gate in the governor's race" (June 18) opened with a wealth of information, observations and insight we have come to expect, only to crumble at the very end.

Your demand for "specifics" hit the wrong chord. If the candidates have not been specific, it is because we do not want them to be specific, and they know it. The name of the game is ambiguity; to offend nobody, alienate nobody.

Start talking about cutting benefits or ways to find money, and soon you will not know what hit you. Be specific, and you might as well start writing your concession speech.

When Cicero was running for public office, his brother Quintus gave him this advice: "Be generous with your promises as men prefer a false promise to a flat denial. Also make sure the people find out about a new scandal of your rivals in way of corruption, crime or immorality." There is nothing new under the sun.

Peter C. Sotiriou

Baltimore

Pub Date: 6/30/98

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