Prince George's PoliceAs an African-American pastor and...

LETTERS TO EDITOR

December 04, 1993

Prince George's Police

As an African-American pastor and citizen, let me share with you some of my observations about the Prince George's County Police Department.

I have been a resident since 1944 and can give you an overview perspective of the department and how it relates to the citizens.

The county is going through a transition, and the Police Department has led the way by providing a leadership that is sensitive to the needs and the desires of citizens.

The department, under the leadership of Chief David B. Mitchell, has instituted many innovative programs to improve the quality of life for citizens.

These include community-oriented policing programs, citizens police academy, clergy-assistance program, explorers troops and the chief's citizens advisory council.

The department sponsors many children and charity benefits. Citizen participation is at its highest in this once-criticized agency.

The leadership has been very sensitive to the need to improve employment opportunities for minorities and women.

African-Americans hold two of the three lieutenant colonel positions, which are second in command. A female holds the rank of major. Other minorities and women fill other ranks and are ready to move up as opportunities open.

The morale is higher than it has ever been. The police department is one of those agencies that deserves a good grade for the hard work it has done for all of us.

Give them some credit for a job well done.

Norris W. Sydnor Jr.

Fort Washington

The writer is pastor of Riverside Baptist Church.

Failing Drug War

In these days of continuing job cuts, perhaps one cannot blame Wayne J. Roques for defending the Drug Enforcement Agency's position on drugs and therefore his job in its Miami office, but this does not excuse the hyperbole to which he resorts in his Nov. 27 letter.

In a way, he contradicts his stance that drugs should remain illegal by citing so many cases where use of marijuana and other drugs have caused problems. Obviously these situations occurred while drugs remain illegal.

He makes no mention of the problems that would be solved (crime, money-laundering, waste of taxpayer money in the many areas of interdiction, enforcement, trial and incarceration) by the decriminalization of drugs.

Mr. Roques feels that decriminalization would result in increased usage -- and this is certainly a reasonable concern. He cites increased usage after decriminalization in Switzerland, England and the Netherlands.

But is this comparison fair? When isolated areas, such as Needle Park in Switzerland, or Amsterdam, allow drug use, there is obviously an enticement for drug users from other widespread areas to congregate there, thus giving rise to the idea that legalization promotes use. However, were the entire U.S. to adopt the policy of decriminalization, I do not believe the same problem would exist. And it may be that, initially, decriminalization would increase use, but I believe it would soon normalize or even drop.

And the savings in drug enforcement (which quite obviously has not worked at all) could be used to help alleviate the conditions which promote drug use.

We know by now what doesn't work, so let's at least try something that might.

Doris Rausch

Columbia

Food: a Moral Choice

I am writing in response to the letter headed ''Meat Eaters, Unite!'' (Nov. 27).

Elizabeth Johnson, a representative of the National Cattlemen's Association, says that the National Cholesterol Education Program approved a report that meat ''can be included in a healthful diet,'' that it is ''not necessary to eliminate'' or drastically reduce the consumption of meats for reasons of health.

However, it also is well known that one can follow a healthful diet without eating meat. The American Dietetic Association has affirmed that a vegetarian diet can meet all known nutrient needs.

If both sides can be healthful, then we are free to choose our method of sustenance. The choice is a moral one, rather than a health-related one.

In the words of the great Russian writer and moral thinker Leo Tolstoy (from "On Civil Disobedience"): ''A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral.''

Dianne Hardy

Baltimore

Cut-Throat Trade Rivalry

Jeane Kirkpatrick's Nov. 23 portrayal of the battle between modernization and protection is plausible but untrue. By her lights, "the resistance of American unions to NAFTA resembled the French farmers'. . . and the Japanese rice farmers' opposition" to free trade.

To Ms. Kirkpatrick, it's all a tale of the inefficient seeking to block competition by the efficient.

The truth, however, is that U.S. rice farmers are more efficient than the Japanese because they employ modern technology.

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