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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Minor arrests harm effort to curb crime

The death of Detective Troy Lamont Chesley is a tragedy for his family and for the city that he was devoted to protecting.

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It is unfortunate that Baltimore Police Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm inappropriately placed the blame for Detective Chesley's death on members of the city's Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.

In The Sun's article "Suspect in killing has long record" (Jan. 10), Commissioner Hamm responded to the arrest of a suspect in Detective Chesley's killing by saying that the members of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council "need to start getting serious about getting people off the street."

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As clerk of the Circuit Court for Baltimore, I have served on this group for eight years.

All of its members are very seriously committed to making Baltimore's overburdened system of justice work. To suggest otherwise is outrageous.

Our focus has been on improving communication between the state's attorney's office, the courts and the police to make sure that all witnesses and parties are present when they are supposed to be in court.

Commissioner Hamm's reckless statement does not advance the cause of communication and cooperation.

Although no one party is solely to blame for the epidemic of postponed trials, the Police Department led by Commissioner Hamm is a very large part of the problem.

As the press has noted, Commissioner Hamm's department has arrested thousands of ordinary citizens who have been released without formal charges being brought.

The department's well-publicized practice of flooding Central Booking with thousands of minor, nuisance cases indirectly contributes to the city's failure to come to grips with violent crime.

This isn't a question of whether one is "tough" or "soft" on crime. It is a question of whether the city is using its personnel to focus on the minority of offenders who are likely to commit violent crime.

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In Baltimore, we arrest a disproportionately high number of our citizens and yet we have one of the highest murder rates among America's largest cities.

Obviously, the broad-brush strategy isn't working.

Frank M. Conaway Sr.

Baltimore

Arrogance doomed Ehrlich's tenure

The editorial "The long view" (Jan. 16) makes some very good points while reviewing Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s term as governor. I found one of them very pertinent: "His lack of administrative experience was not helpful, nor was the lack of Annapolis experience among his senior staff."

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I sensed a hint of haughtiness emanating from the State House -- a sort of carryover from Capitol Hill of not making compromises and not returning phone calls while adopting an attitude of "do it my way or we won't do it at all."

Mr. Ehrlich made more bad decisions than good ones, thus weakening his appeal.

David Boyd

White Hall

Photos underscore bias against Ehrlich

If I ever had any doubt about how left-wing this paper is, The Sun removed all doubt on Monday ("Changing of the Guard," Jan. 15).

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The two pictures, one of a bright, smiling Martin O'Malley and the other -- I'm sure the worst photo The Sun could find in its files -- of a scowling Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., leave no doubt where this paper stands.

Clay Seeley

Owings Mills

Lest anyone question the blatant bias of The Sun, just look at the side-by-side photos of Martin O'Malley and Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in Monday's edition.

Now that's what I call kicking a man (Mr. Ehrlich) when he's down after losing an election.

Polly Thornton

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Elkridge

Foreign meddling strains Somalia

I would like to thank The Sun and Matthew Mainen for the column "Condemn the Arab League's stance on Somalia" (Opinion * Commentary, Jan. 8).

I'm an exile from Somalia, and no one understands better than I do the great troubles the Islamic Courts Union brought to my homeland.

As Mr. Mainen noted, this Islamic extremist regime was financed by sympathizers in Saudi Arabia.

To the best of my knowledge, The Sun was the first newspaper in the United States to shed light on this fact.

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The stability of the Horn of Africa depends on it not being interfered with by corrupt despots in Arab League countries.

Normun Yujen Mainarhd

Clarksville

Congress can assert influence over war

It is now time for the newly elected Democratic members of Congress to show President Bush why they were elected and bring our troops back home from Iraq ("Bush says he has authority to send more troops to Iraq," Jan. 15).

President Bush obviously doesn't understand this. His insistent desire to send more troops into Iraq, where many of them will be killed and seriously injured, is cruel.

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The answer to this problem is for our country to turn this conflict over to the Iraqi people and let them fight their own battles.

Regardless of the outcome of this decision, it is unjustifiable for us to lose one more of our soldiers and Marines in Iraq.

Walter Boyd

Lutherville

What would victory look like in Iraq?

I keep hearing that if we just stay the course or surge our troop strength in Iraq, we can expect victory ("Bush says he has authority to send more troops to Iraq," Jan. 15).

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But we are entangled in a police action in a vicious civil war.

What would "victory" even look like?

Ed Hord

Baltimore

The problem I have with President Bush's insistence on winning the war in Iraq is that no one on the face of the Earth can define what winning the war in Iraq means.

Our American soldiers are targets in a 2-year-old civil war.

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Let's get them out.

David Jaffa

West Friendship

Fashion trend omits BCCC apparel option

I was delighted to read The Sun's article "In schools, a trend toward fashion" (Jan. 8). At the same time, I was disappointed that the reporter did not mention Baltimore City Community College's Apparel Technology Program.

Inaugurated in 1975, BCCC's Apparel Technology Program enrolls more than 145 students from Baltimore and the surrounding region.

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The program provides the opportunity for students to pursue the Apparel Design AAS degree or certificate options.

It is the only program of its kind in any two-year institution of higher learning in Maryland.

The program's commitment to career education is reinforced with state-of-the-art equipment, a faculty made up of working professionals, and an industry-driven advisory committee.

I hope that in the future, The Sun will consider featuring the program in fashion-related articles.

Sally Di Marco

Baltimore

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The writer is a professor and program coordinator at Baltimore City Community College.


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