Commissioner Norris is on the right track...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Commissioner Norris is on the right track to stop city's violence

I read with interest Baltimore police Commissioner Edward T. Norris' letter "Why the city's murder rate is so high" (Sept. 5). His comments were right on the mark and, if he carries out his program as he described it, I, for one, think Mr. Norris will succeed in reducing the murder and crime rate in this city.

The news has also recently featured an important drug raid on Baltimore's east side that seems to follow Mr. Norris' program ("Police break up east-side drug ring," Sept. 7).

Patricia Jessamy, the state's attorney for Baltimore City, promised that she would do all she can to see that the people involved are prosecuted vigorously.

It will take the cooperation of all parties in the criminal justice system (police, prosecutors and judges) to solve crime and make our streets safe again.

The media has a role, too. It should focus on the whole problem, not one element and support enforcement actions instead of criticizing them for shock value.

Albert Winkler

Baltimore

Show of force may help, but won't stop drug violence

The Baltimore police deal with people at the end of the drug chain ("Why the city's murder rate is so high," letters, Sept. 5). The drug war was lost at the federal level years ago. What we see in Baltimore are the results.

At this point, the police need a show of force in all high-crime areas. The police must respond to 911 calls faster. They must get out of their cars and confront the criminals. They must enforce the laws against loitering.

Police must get guns out of the hands of juveniles and criminals and enforce school truancy laws and laws against littering and public drinking.

The police need to patrol the streets, two and three officers at a time.

But we can't arrest our way out of this drug crisis. The jails are already full of drug users and dealers. Unfortunately, the people have spoken -- and many of them want drugs. The drug problem is a matter of supply and demand.

For any headway to be made in this crisis, drugs must be decriminalized. If we take the profit out of the drug business, the violence will disappear -- and then we can get the murder rate down.

Ray Gibson

Baltimore

The Sun's front-page article "Police break up east-side drug ring" (Sept. 7) quoted police Commissioner Edward T. Norris saying, "We've made quite a dent in the East Baltimore drug trade."

A "dent" is the perfect metaphor, because a dent does not hinder a car from running, but only makes it uglier.

Other dealers will now shoot it out for the turf of the arrested dealers. Innocent people may be killed in the crossfire. The supply of drugs having temporarily gone down, the price will go up.

When the price goes up, addicts will commit more muggings and burglaries to pay for their habits and the residents of Baltimore will suffer.

We saw this all before with alcohol prohibition, and we've now been putting dents in the drug trade for more than 30 years. It's time to repeal drug prohibition.

Henry Cohen

Baltimore

U.N. hasn't guaranteed Palestinians' right of return

It is both incredible and ironic that Phyllis Bennis cited U.N. Resolution 194 to support her assertion that the Palestinians have an "absolute right to return to their pre-1948 villages" ("Palestinians have a right to go home," Sept. 3).

Incredible, because U.N. Resolution 194 did not guarantee, as Ms. Bennis states, "the right to return home and compensation." In that resolution, compensation was offered as an alternative to the right of return, as was resettlement to other lands.

Ironic, because it was precisely this lack of guaranteed return, along with its implicit recognition of Israel, that caused all Arab states to vote against the resolution in 1948.

Jerome Kiewe

Baltimore

Debate on debates reveals the media's liberal bias ...

The Sun's editorial "Playing politics on Bush-Gore debates" (Sept. 7) argued that Texas Gov. George W. Bush has attempted to manipulate the debate format by proposing to debate Al Gore on "Meet the Press" and on Larry King's show.

The Sun admonished Mr. Bush for "rewriting the debate rules" since these debates wouldn't be seen by millions of Americans.

I believe The Sun's editors have a case of selective amnesia. It was Mr. Gore, not Mr. Bush, who proposed debates on those shows. Mr. Bush accepted Mr. Gore's challenge to debate him "anytime, anywhere."

Why didn't The Sun criticize Mr. Gore for this statement or for any of his other contradictory statements?

This is another case of Mr. Gore trying to say anything to get elected.

The Sun's editorial and failure to mention all relevant facts is just another case of the media's liberal bias.

Michael P. Beczkowski

Bel Air...

or does it show Gov. Bush is playing political games?

I agree with The Sun about the attempt of Texas Gov. George W. Bush to manipulate the presidential debates for his own purposes ("Playing politics on Bush-Gore debates," editorial, Sept. 7).

Although he did say "anytime, anywhere" to debates, Vice President Al Gore was right to turn down Mr. Bush's "only where and when I want them" ultimatum.

Much like his fellow Republicans in Congress, who are proposing legislation guaranteed to be vetoed, Mr. Bush is trying to push his opponent into a corner to get a "no" answer, in the hope that it will become an issue in the campaign.

The public seems to have viewed his debate proposal for just what it was: a failed political ploy.

What we want to see in this very close presidential race is an independently organized set of debates. That would allow the issues to be debated in a forum which can be seen by all Americans.

In such a tight race, the public deserves and needs maximum access to the candidates when the issues are debated.

Michael Baker

Baltimore

What happened to mothers marching for gun control?

Why the "silence of the moms"? After the inspiring turnout of mothers marching for gun control on Mother's Day, there has been an eerie silence on the subject.

It seems that the presidential campaigns would have stimulated rather than stymied such activity.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush is a member of the National Rifle Association and a promoter of concealed weapons who doesn't want his blood pressure raised with questions about the issue.

Let's hope it comes up in the presidential debates.

Sylna B. Mandy

Baltimore

Soldiers reduced to penury remain a national disgrace

I continue to be ashamed that soldiers who selflessly protect our national security are reduced to food stamp dependency ("Pentagon plans food subsidy for low-rank troops," July 29).

This disgrace occurs while our national leadership regularly doles out billions of dollars to foreign nations -- enemies and allies alike.

Why is it that soldiers who serve this nation have become politically expendable? Mere blocks from the White House, homeless veterans live on heating vents.

One would think that politicians would care enough to see that our troops -- who will assume the burden of battle in the next war -- are able to live and eat above poverty levels in this era of peace.

Joe Hammell

Waynesboro, Pa.

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