Community policing is the strategy for BaltimoreThe Sun...

Letters to the Editor

April 10, 1999

Community policing is the strategy for Baltimore

The Sun has done a good job following the fallout of "zero tolerance" police practices in New York City. This may help officials who have been pushing "zero tolerance" in Baltimore understand that such slogans are not strategies.

Instead of drawing conclusions from a superficial look at the New York program, these officials would do well to take a closer look at their own city, where some communities are benefiting from the community policing programs initiated by Police Commissioner Thomas Frazier. In these communities, we are experiencing a major reduction in crime without the hostility between police and minorities that New York has experienced.

It may take longer to see the results in Baltimore because of the time it takes to bring citizens into these programs, but the Police Department's programs are working. In Bolton Hill, for instance, a diverse community where community policing is in full swing, crime is down dramatically. As someone who has initiated several crime prevention programs in Bolton Hill, I can attest that our incredibly low crime rate would be impossible without the partnership we have developed with the Baltimore Police Department.

Indeed, with the crime rate so low, our community volunteers have very little to do these days.

Doreen Rosenthal, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Mount Royal Improvement Association.

Taxing tobacco, punishing farmers

It is interesting to watch Gov. Parris N. Glendening use coercion and bribery to induce Maryland legislators to raise our tobacco tax under the noble guise of "saving the lives of our children." I agree that teen-agers should not smoke. However, while auto accidents, drug overdoses and alcohol intoxication have caused many teen deaths, I have yet to hear of a teen-ager's death from smoking a cigarette.

But the saddest part of this whole tobacco war is the plight of our farm community in Southern Maryland. For more than 350 years, hard-working families from all walks of life have made a living off the land from the legal crop of tobacco. The tobacco tax and the industry's settlement with the states only serve to destroy this agricultural economy and force tobacco production overseas.

This governor has become the most anti-farmer in the history of our great state. And, with our legislators salivating over pet projects to be funded by tobacco tax revenues, I'm not sure who is most addicted to tobacco: smokers or our legislators. W. Michael Phipps, Owings

Kevorkian editorial crosses a line, too

Your editorial "Kevorkian's conviction" (April 1) cites the absence of clear guidelines that would permit more mainstream members of the medical profession to assist their dying patients who want to end their lives as a failure of public policy. I beg to differ.

Your view presumes, without argument, that public policy ought to permit assisted suicide. There is no historical support for this proposition. Since Thomas Jefferson, public policy has formally recognized every person's inalienable right to life as the basis for an evolving scheme of civil libertarian freedom.

The goal of this organizing principle is to enhance personal autonomy by limiting the scope of government's authority. But your advocacy of clear guidelines for permitting assisted suicide is absolutist: You presume to extend the scope of the government's authority beyond the bounds of life itself.

You say Kevorkian crossed a line. So have you.

Gregory Lewis, Baltimore

Late-term abortions unnecessary, unsafe

The Sun's editorial "End late-term abortion debate" (April 6) contained blatant misinformation. No evidence supports the claim that the partial-birth abortion procedure is usually used "when the life of the woman is endangered." Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, debunked that myth years ago.

The bill the Maryland legislature is considering explicitly allows a partial-birth abortion "that is necessary to save the life of a mother whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, illness, or injury." But the facts that abortion doctors themselves acknowledge suggest that partial-birth abortions are performed on healthy mothers carrying healthy babies and that this happens at least 3,000 to 5,000 times annually.

The Physicians Ad Hoc Coalition for Truth, a group of more than 500 physicians, including former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, has stated that "partial-birth abortion is never medically necessary to protect a mother's health or future fertility. On the contrary, this procedure can pose a significant threat to both her immediate health and future fertility."

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