A policeman's restraint got the job doneOn Friday night...

the Forum

August 17, 1993

A policeman's restraint got the job done

On Friday night, Aug. 6, I was standing in front of one of the local bars when all of a sudden a man pulled out a gun and started pointing it at people gathered there.

Just as this was happening, a Baltimore County police officer happened to be going by and stopped to investigate.

He saw the man with the gun, pulled his service revolver and was able to convince the man to give up his gun. At no time did the officer overreact or put the crowd in any jeopardy. The officer's name is Sgt. William McElfish.

In these times when some police officers overreact in other counties and cities, it is nice to know that Baltimore County has officers like Sergeant McElfish, who is a member of the most professional police force anywhere, as I observed first-hand that Friday night.

Thanks for a job well done. We can all sleep a little better knowing that Sergeant McElfish and the rest of the Baltimore County police are protecting us.

Don Crockett

Middle River

Murder by auto

In a Baltimore County courtroom recently, a murderer was released from jail early. Was this reported in the paper? No. Why not? Because the weapons used were a car and alcohol, not a gun or knife.

On July 18, 1992, a drunk driver slammed into and killed Dimitris Vakiaros, a husband and father. For killing this man, the drunk driver was sentenced to four years, all but 18 months suspended, and home detention for one year.

The case came back to court because the defendant wanted her sentence reconsidered. She was behaving very well on work-release and she was pregnant. Therefore, her lawyer argued, she should be released from jail into home detention. This request was granted.

At no time during this hearing was the victim or his family mentioned. It seemed like this was a victimless crime, which it wasn't. No mention was made of the devastation caused to this family and the grief that they will always feel.

If the murder weapon was a gun or knife, there would be a public outcry about a dangerous criminal being released early. Well, a drunk driver is also dangerous. No one knows where they will strike next and who their next victim will be.

Wake up, editors. Maybe if you treated drunk driving seriously, the public would follow suit.

Donna Becker

Towson

The writer is treasurer of the Northern Maryland Chapter, Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

False pride

Well, the politicians in Washington have passed and signed into law a so-called "deficit reduction" act.

That's what they call it, but in reality it just keeps the deficit from rising quite so fast. And the so-called "spending reductions" just keep spending from rising quite so fast. Where have we heard this before?

In the 1980s, the Gramm-Rudman Act was passed to get the deficit under control by the 1990s. The politicians patted themselves on the back and announced to the American people that they had finally gotten the deficit under control.

It didn't quite work out that way, so in 1990 a new budget was enacted by the Washington politicians. And once again, with great fanfare, they patted themselves on the back and announced that our deficit would be brought under control.

Now in 1993 we have yet another plan, accompanied by huge tax increases and token spending cuts. Once again, the Washington crowd is strutting around, bragging to the American public about the great job they have done.

Our current national debt is around $4 trillion. Anyone who believes this debt will be reduced in the next few years must believe in the tooth fairy.

Iver Mindel

Cockeysville

Understated debt

In his Aug. 10 column (Other Voices), Robert Kuttner states that the federal debt is 54 percent of the gross national product. This is a misleading statement.

The federal debt held by the public as a percentage of the gross national product is indeed 54 percent.

But gross federal debt also includes debt that is held in government accounts. The debt held by government accounts for the current fiscal year is $1.1 trillion.

If this is included -- as it should be -- the correct figure for the gross federal debt as a percentage of the gross national product is 71 percent. My source is the "Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 1994."

David Marshall

Catonsville

Some achievement

Janet Reno, Attorney General of the United States, recently received the Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award from the American Bar Association.

What is her most conspicuous achievement since being appointed to the office by President Clinton?

She was in charge of the Waco massacre. She approved and later admitted responsibility for the searing, choking, torturing gas attack on the innocent children housed in the compound prior to their being burned to ashes in the fire that followed the attack.

Imagine. This is the woman who told the audience at her awards ceremony: "I invite you to join me in the crusade against violence in America. Too many Americans are hurting each other and killing each other."

Richard T. Seymour

Baltimore

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