City police confused over whom to arrestIf the citizens of...


November 12, 1996

City police confused over whom to arrest

If the citizens of Baltimore are confused over which direction the police department is taking when it comes to fighting crime, don't worry, so are their police officers.

First, we were told not to arrest small-time drug dealers/users and those who commit minor crimes but rather concentrate on handgun seizures.

Then, after a well publicized visit to New York by members of the City Council Legislative Investigations Committee and the Fraternal Order of Police, the plan changed. We were told to issue citations for dozens of minor crimes because the new central booking facility and the courts were unable or unwilling to handle any increase in arrests.

Now we are told officers are being evaluated solely on the number of arrests they make, not how well they control and prevent crime in their area of responsibility. Whatever happened to remaining in service in order to protect citizens?

The spokesman for the Police Department, Sam Ringgold, even had the nerve to say that the department wasn't getting its ''money's worth'' from officers who don't arrest enough subjects.

Since police officers in Baltimore are the lowest paid on the entire East Coast, he's lucky we even show up for work. Police officers in Baltimore need clear direction and leadership, not policies that change with the political winds.

Gary McLhinney


The writer is president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Baltimore City Lodge No. 3.

Arrest quotas should be rescinded

What should be the role of a police officer?

In an Nov. 5 article, Maj. Errol L. Dutton of the Northwestern District seems to think it is to arrest people. His goal is for each officer to arrest at least two adults each week.

Certainly a police officer should make an arrest when appropriate, but should this be his or her main role? Major Dutton's goal seems inappropriate. It places officers in a confrontational role. It makes me, a law-abiding citizen, uncomfortable in the presence of the police.

I'd rather see officers focus on preventing crime and being helpful to citizens in the neighborhoods they patrol. I'd like to see Major Dutton's ''memo'' rescinded.

James Silvan


A year in the race between rail and canal

The obituary of Helen Carroll Wright ( Oct. 27) had a one-year mistake which made a major difference. She was a great granddaughter of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence. The obituary said that Carroll broke ground for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1827.

The groundbreaking actually occurred on July 4, 1828. It was a date which was of great importance to the development of transportation in 19th century Maryland.

The same Independence Day that Carroll broke ground for the B&O in Ellicott City, President John Quincy Adams broke ground at Georgetown for the C&O Canal.

As a former long-time resident of Cumberland, I remember many historical references to that date. The B&O reached Cumberland in 1842, 14 years after the groundbreaking, but the C&O Canal did not get there until 1850.

The date also was exactly two years after the death of two other signers, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

Albert D. Darby Jr.

Martinsburg, W.Va.

Generosity breeds sloth

I'd like to respond to Denise Barker concerning definitions of "liberal" and "conservative."

I believe a "generous" and "open-handed" attitude has created a nation of "why should I work for a living when the government will support me?" I have no problem helping the truly needy: I give generously to the United Way, do volunteer work through my church and my place of employment.

I draw the line, though, on those who show no desire to help themselves and are content to sit around and blame past injustices for their lot in life.

If we did, indeed, become "stingy, cheapskate, penny-pinching, hard-hearted and Scroogelike," then maybe the people who really need the help could get it.

Donna P. Evanston


Electric autos would benefit all

Tom McComas' Nov. 5 letter expressed concerns about the ability of electric vehicles (EVs) to reduce pollution.

In fact, EVs are more efficient and less polluting than conventional vehicles, even when taking into account the associated pollution from electric power plants to charge their batteries. Power plants are significantly more efficient than the internal combustion engine; this alone results in significantly less emissions from EV systems. In addition, the emissions from hundreds of stationary electric power plants are better controlled than those from millions of mobile vehicles.

Moreover, the idle period, while an auto waits for a traffic light, is the most inefficient phase of the gasoline-fueled, internal combustion engine vehicle cycle. But when the EV is not moving it draws no power and emits no pollution. This simple fact alone makes a tremendous difference in emissions.

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