Forum extra The police and the public
I WRITE in regard to the article entitled "NAACP calls city police worst in state" (Evening Sun, Oct. 16)
I am disturbed and saddened at the escalation of violence and criminal activity committed by a small portion of our society. The Baltimore Police Department is committed to apply all its authority to rid our streets of those who would prey upon our community. A number of my fellow officers have laid down their lives in pursuit of this commitment.
Tens of thousands of police/citizen contacts occur annually, of which the overwhelming majority are positive in nature. These contacts will continue to be conducted in a legal and fair manner, without regard for color, creed, sex, sexual orientation or status. Naturally, disagreement between police and citizens will occur. It has been our experience that most differences are those of perception, misunderstanding or, unfortunately, retribution against the actions of officers performing their legal duties. We attempt as best we can to resolve these conflicts.
To this end, we provide effective avenues for citizens who feel they have been aggrieved. In fact, we dedicate a specialized unit to receive, process and investigate allegations of wrongdoing by our personnel. This investigative unit has my full authority to act as a fact-finding body. Additionally, the complaint evaluation board, which was created by an act of the legislature, is an independent board that reviews all allegations of police use of excessive force and discourtesy.
I would not suggest that there have never been acts of wrongdoing committed by police officers. But when we have had knowledge of these occurrences, and when they have been proven to be true, action has been swift and sure. Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and I will not tolerate citizen abuse by any member of the Baltimore Police Department. Nor, more important, will the men and women of this department tolerate such activity. We hold ourselves to a higher standard and judge ourselves more harshly because we know that the wrongdoing of one can be an indictment of us all. Conversely, when our department is unfairly judged for varied reasons, each of us is unfairly indicted.
I want to assure every citizen of this great city as well as the many fine men and women of the Baltimore Police Department there is neither a "massive" nor "devastating" problem of police brutality or misconduct. The relationship between our citizenry and our police is built on a solid foundation and it grows stronger everyday.
The writer is commissioner of the Baltimore City Police ; Department.
Edward V. Woods
Ethnic Arabs could become bridge-builders
Regarding Gregory Orfalea's article (Other Voices, Oct. 16): In my opinion prejudice of any kind is unforgivable. However, it is a fact of life and has been for generations. Witness the recurring fights between Armenians and Azerbaijani in the Soviet Union, Moslems and Hindus in India, Zulus and Xhosas in South Africa and, of special interest to me, centuries of anti-Semitism. TC It is wrong to be anti-Arab per se, but we live in a democracy an ...
Mr. Orfalea can (and does) speak up against it. I was born a Jewish Egyptian and had many friends in the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the Cairo of those days. I did not know which Moslems were Sunni or Shiite, which Christians were Catholic or Protestant and could not have cared less. I respected their religions and they respected mine.
After the 1956 war with Israel I became a non-person. I was stripped of my membership in tennis and bridge clubs. The import permits necessary to handle international commerce were no longer issued to my father's company, but I did keep my friends. They could not speak up but they were sorry for my plight. I finally had to leave Egypt, whereupon the authorities confiscated my nationality papers and for the next 20 years I was a stateless person (until I became an American).
Mr. Orfalea is right to complain, but his problems are with bigoted individuals whereas I had to contend with a prejudiced state, and I wonder which is worse.
I think that Mr. Orfalea and other Arab-Americans have an historic opportunity at hand. Let them increase contacts with other Americans, discuss differences of outlook and opinions and eventually they should become the bridge for understanding and mutual respect between the Western and Arab worlds. They are the only Arabs who can do that. All the others are eithe brainwashed or muzzled by their governments.
Regarding Milton Bates' column, "The man wants to be paid" (Other Voices, Oct. 26), I too know something of the "Tin Men" bait-and-switch days. If Milton made no better a pitch for siding than he does for blaming Ronald Reagan for the deficit, it's no wonder he had a hard time closing a sale.