Commissioner Norris and his policing plan deserve...


Commissioner Norris and his policing plan deserve a chance

After reading Mayor Martin O'Malley's plan to fight crime in our community, I must object to the use of the term "zero tolerance" to describe what he and his new police commissioner want to do ("Report calls for police changes," April 4).

Their plan is filled with specific actions, strategies and tactics that seem to be a common sense approach stopping crime.

For example, they plan to have 30 officers, instead of the current five, assigned to tracking down 250 known criminals.

In general, the plan states that a great deal is known about who the bad guys are and more resources will be directed to track them down. This is a plan to stop killing and crime.

And, because it is a detailed public plan, the mayor and the police will be accountable for their tactics.

New York has its problems and I do not care to import any of them, but why not join me in being outraged about the people killed here in Baltimore last week?

Let us come together and support a plan (the first I have ever read) to address our immediate and very real crisis of crime and violence.

Nancy Haragan, Baltimore

The citizens of Baltimore shouldn't be afraid of a police commissioner from out of town.

Baltimore County hired a New Yorker by the name of Neil Behan in 1977 and he turned that department into one of the most respected in the country.

Perhaps Edward T. Norris' experience as a leader of a police force with more than 30,000 officers in so diverse and visible a city as New York, will help straighten up a much smaller city and police department.

Greg Redmer, Perry Hall

Police chiefs are dispensable; dream of public safety is not

As one of the thousands of blacks who supported Martin O'Malley's mayoral candidacy and still fully supports him, I would like to respond to the article "Hundreds at rally urge Norris to resign" (April 4).

How soon do these, I suppose, well-intended "800 people" forget that we once had in office a black mayor, a black state's attorney and many black councilmen and prosecutors -- and during that time the crime rate soared.

The law has always placed low value on black lives. This callous attitude is the root cause of the blood-letting crime that runs rampant in black communities.

The intrusion of the drug culture has compounded their high murder rates.

It is the black-on-black crime with which we are most concerned, not with the color of the police chief.

Given his prior insubordination, I felt Ronald L. Daniel's appointment as police commissioner was Mr. O'Malley's first serious mistake. I am pleased to know the mistake has been corrected.

Edith Jordan, Baltimore

In January, The Sun ran an article on the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream and what it meant to Baltimore's middle and high school youth.

In many cases, the young people interviewed had "dreams" for safer, nonviolent, drug-free neighborhoods and schools ("'I have a dream' of a peaceable city," Jan. 22).

I have been waiting to hear a response from Baltimore's leaders to this heartfelt plea for a safe city.

Last week, we heard from Mayor Martin O'Malley. We learned he was listening. We learned he is a man of action.

And we learned that police chiefs are dispensable but not the dreams of Baltimore's young sons and daughters.

It is sad that kids need to dream of safe schools and crime-free communities. It is shameful that adults have not guaranteed these things already.

Baltimore's children should be free of fear, free from violence and free to dream.

Michael Galiazzo, Sparks

No matter who leads city, citizens must make it better

Whether Ronald L. Daniel, Edward T. Norris or Jack Spratt is Baltimore's police commissioner, his or her success depends on city residents taking responsibility for what happens around them.

Whether Robert Booker or Ichabod Crane leads Baltimore's schools, we must see that the schools are not overcrowded and are adequately staffed and supplied with teaching materials.

So it goes in all departments and for all services.

Baltimore is the way it is because we allow it to be this way. Let's not get caught up in the rhetoric, ego and race-card claims of those who want attention or be distracted from putting our city in order .

It doesn't matter if you're rich or poor, a renter or a homeowner, native-born or immigrant, illiterate or degreed.

This city is our bread and butter. We live here. Let's work for it.

Julia N. Montgomery, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Beauregard Neighborhood Association.

Television news became entertainment long ago

I read with interest Jack Germond and Jules Witcover's column "News waits in the wings" (Opinion Commentary, April 7) that brought attention to recent interviews in which Diane Sawyer sprawled on the floor to talk to 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez and Leonardo DiCaprio questioned our president about global warming.

Television news has indeed become not news but entertainment.

But where, one might ask, have Mr. Germond and Mr. Witcover been for the last decade or so -- in a cave somewhere?

Their concern about today's "multi-media celebrity-happy world" altering legitimate news standards is a little tardy.

And to their last point, that anyone can play journalist with the president, providing he or she can get in the door, the authors did not acknowledge one pertinent fact: How difficult it is to get in depends on who is on the other side of that door.

And during the current administration, it has not been very difficult.

Bob Rumrill, Bel Air

Condemnation measure takes public power too far

I am appalled at the idea of our government deciding that entire neighborhoods can be eradicated and using the excuse that it is for the benefit of all citizens ("Measure expands Baltimore County's condemnation power," April 5).

It does, however, seem to follow a recurring theme: Big government goes after tobacco, a legal substance; then it threatens the gun companies; then Microsoft.

Now, our local government, using bogus excuses, can steal people's property.

It's time people realized they should be very scared of what is happening. Today it's Essex-Middle River; next it could be their own neighborhood.

Gerry Smith,Upper Falls

Guns don't belong in school, but gun-safety courses do

I agree that school is not a place where guns should be ("...but guns do not belong in school," letters, April 7).

But given the tragedies involving guns maybe some type of firearm safety course, and a demonstration of the awesome power that a firearm is capable of, should be in the schools.

Maybe if kids were taught the basics of safe firearm-handling some of their curiosity would be satisfied and children wouldn't be so curious when they happen to find a gun inadvertently.

The National Rifle Association has an "Eddie Eagle" gun safety program designed for kids. Why not make it mandatory in schools nationwide?

B. Wiesand, Gardenville

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