Needless 'toys' will do little to stop crimeIn Maryland...

the Forum

May 18, 1994

Needless 'toys' will do little to stop crime

In Maryland last year, there was a 5 percent increase in the number of homicides and a 1 percent increase in violent crime overall.

Parents in Baltimore City are no longer willing to let their children play on the front steps of their own homes because of the likelihood of their being hit by stray gunfire.

I wonder what the reaction of these parents must be when they look out their windows to see drug transactions taking place in front of their homes and hear about the $366,000 that was spent on the laughable raid on The Block last January.

Not only was an outrageous amount of time and manpower wasted in harassing and pursuing victimless criminals, but three of the troopers involved are being investigated for involvement in sexual liaisons that took place that night.

Misconduct claims against officers and improperly obtained evidence caused the Baltimore state's attorney's office to drop half of the drug cases resulting from the raid.

It's hard not to imagine that the taxpayers' money could be better spent.

And now, to add insult to injury, state, city and county law enforcement agencies are preparing to launch a program that will use helicopters to patrol traffic lights. We should probably count ourselves lucky that this will only cost $1,000 in tax money.

The rationale behind this project is that the running of red lights is causing an increasing number of accidents -- 2.74 percent of accidents in 1982 and 3.71 percent in 1992. That's an increase of approximately 1 percent in 10 years.

State Police Superintendent Col. Larry Tolliver's poor judgment and misplaced priorities are costing taxpayer dollars and innocent lives.

As long as law enforcement officials need high-tech toys to get them interested enough to act, "to protect and serve" becomes a phrase that simply doesn't apply.

Maybe if we could figure out a way for the cops to play with helicopters while protecting us from violent crime in our homes and on our front steps, they'd do the job they were intended to do.

rank W. Soltis

Fallston

Election voting

Isn't it ironic that Sen. Barbara Mikulski voted "yes" to keep parking free at airports?

She also voted for weakening a bill to ban the acceptance of gifts, meals and financial benefits from lobbyists.

RTC Sen. Paul Sarbanes voted against them both.

Could it be that Senator Mikulski's term has four more years and Senator Sarbanes is up for re-election this year?

Paul Hawkins

Kingsville

Preventive action

The U.S. can no longer avoid the issue of when and how to use military force to maintain the rule of law in a dangerous world and to protect the most basic human rights.

One of the most important of these rights is freedom from mass extermination that often involves civilians, whose only offense is their ethnicity.

A dispassionate analysis of today's world shows enormous potential for large-scale conflict and chaos. It is clearly in the interest of the U.S. to prevent and/or to minimize these deadly situations, any one of which could spread out of control.

The obvious question is how can we reduce both the number and the severity of such hot spots as Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, Rwanda, North Korea, Iran and Iraq.

My contention is that the number and magnitude of international conflicts is neither fixed nor pre-ordained. There is a wide range; the actual number of events is affected by external stimuli and deterrents.

Though even the best diplomatic, economic and military strategies can't prevent all international bloodshed, inept leadership and failed policies can actually cause conflict.

For example, a strong, clear and active coalition policy, led by the U.S., could prevent most ethnic conflict.

Furthermore, the size of each eruption could be controlled beyond a certain limit.

On the other hand, ostrich-like acknowledgement that the loss of even one American soldier is unacceptable is an open invitation to tragedy.

This isolationist approach stimulates aggression and adventurism and produces many times the number of conflicts that would occur if there was a realistic fear of reprisal from the civilized world.

Pragmatic self-interest and calculated cost-assessment lead to the same conclusion as does moral outrage. Prevention is the best cure and aggressors will only be deterred by a credible threat.

History has shown that a failure of will sends precisely the wrong message to the wrong people and encourages both chaos and anarchy.

Conversely, the careful, swift and effective use of economic and military force can prevent the plague of war.

Roger C. Kostmayer

Baltimore

Phone block

My wife works in Washington, D.C. and takes the train from a station outside the Baltimore Beltway.

There was a morning fog recently, and the car headlights were left on all day. Of course, the battery was dead when she returned in the evening.

There was a pay phone at the station and she paged me. Fortunately, I was able to call her back and go to her aid.

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