Police sworn to protect us

Letters

we must reciprocateThese are...

June 21, 1998

Police sworn to protect us; we must reciprocate

These are prosperous economic times for the citizens of Howard County.

With 2.3 percent unemployment, a resurgence in commercial and residential building, a rainy day fund in excess of $20 million and AAA bond ratings, we are frequently reminded of the accomplishments of our local officials.

Howard continues to rank as one of the safest and wealthiest counties in the state and nation, attributes that continue to draw new residents to our planned communities and attractive surroundings.

But the safety of our citizenry cannot be left to chance. We can no longer rely on Howard County's reputation to protect us from reality.

Low unemployment cannot prevent your business from being robbed by some less fortunate soul in that 2.3 percent category.

The fact is that only the police can help prevent victimization of this nature, and the Howard County Police Department is in the midst of a crisis.

Our local Republican officials cannot boast about their accomplishments in labor-management relations because they have failed. While promoting the concept of Total Quality Public Service, they have refused to provide well-earned and fiscally responsible cost of living adjustments, subsequently demoralizing the county government's work force.

They are presently attempting to reduce earned leave and force police officers into a pay plan that would reduce their salaries by as much as $10,000.

You and I pay taxes to train officers to protect us. Our Howard County officers receive their state certifications, only to be contacted and lured away by surrounding jurisdictions with superior benefits. That portion of our tax dollars is then wasted on training an officer who will never serve Howard's many needs.

The next time you see a Howard County police officer and a state trooper driving down Route 29, you'll know that the county officer makes about $10,000 less than the trooper.

You'll also know that when the trooper retires, his family will have medical benefits; the county officer's will not.

You'll probably also figure out that the trooper used to be a county officer that you paid to train.

Police managers continue to attempt to gain comparable benefits for their officers, who face increasingly dangerous manpower shortages. Unfortunately, they must rely on certain council members who gamble with our safety by saving for a rainy day or paying a debt that they've incurred.

Each Howard County police officer is an investment in our quality of living.

As they devote their best efforts to their sworn oaths, we must pledge them our support and demand that our officials do everything necessary to retain them.

Robert Castor

Ellicott City

The writer is a Howard County police officer.

It's time to send state official home

Every four years, the Maryland State Teachers Association publishes ratings of our state legislators to help us judge who supports education and who does not. More than just a barometer of education funding, these ratings let us know which of our elected representatives have fought to educate our children and to prepare them for the 21st century.

This area is lucky enough to have many of the legislators ranked highest on the list, including Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, Del. Elizabeth Bobo and Sen. Martin G. Madden. By fighting for higher educational standards, incentive programs, and initiatives to help at-risk youth, these legislators are helping to ensure that we are developing well-educated, well-adjusted citizens for the coming years.

Unfortunately, this county also hosts the legislator ranked last by our teachers: District 14 Sen. Christopher McCabe. Not only did Mr. McCabe fail to rank ahead of a single state Senate colleague, he managed to rank below everyone in the House of Delegates as well. He was 188th out of 188.

It comes as no real surprise that Mr. McCabe has a dismal record on education. He consistently voted against programs to stem the tide of youth violence, alcohol abuse and drug addiction. He recently voted against a scholarship incentive program to train and to keep talented science students in Maryland. His statements in support of school vouchers evidence a clear hostility toward our excellent public school system.

This county has some of the best public schools in the nation. We should be working to make them even better. Our elected representatives should be exploring new ideas to keep our students competitive with those from around the country and around the world, so that this region can compete for the businesses that will provide jobs and tax dollars necessary to improve our standard of living. We simply cannot afford to abandon public education for the convention centers and sports stadiums to which Mr. McCabe has helped send so many of our tax dollars.

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