Homicide detectives are well-trained and do a tough job...


January 10, 2000

Homicide detectives are well-trained and do a tough job well

The lack of insight and perspective in The Sun's editorial "Homicides 1999: What went wrong" (Jan. 4) demands a factual response.

The editorial stated that "unseasoned homicide detectives lacked investigative skills."

All homicide detectives undergo an apprenticeship in which they investigate nonfatal shootings. Before that begins, they undergo a 40-hour basic homicide investigators course provided by a respected private training concern.

During the past year, all new detectives attended an additional four-day basic course provided by highly experienced sergeants and instructors from the state's attorney's office and the medical examiner. All investigators received instruction from the state's attorney's office on interviews and Fourth Amendment issues.

Twenty new detectives attended the renowned Francis Glessner Lee seminar of forensic death investigation.

Only the best detectives are allowed to work as a second investigator on a murder, and only after they have demonstrated exceptional ability and motivation.

No rookie detective is the primary investigator on a murder until he or she has assisted an experienced homicide detective on many cases.

I have regular dealings with the state's attorney's office, and find that, while mistakes can and do occur, the concept of "strained relations" between that office and the police is without basis in fact.

No one wants to see an end to killing and violence more than those who must deal with its consequences daily. Homicide detectives do a tremendous job under trying and difficult circumstances.

Jeffrey Rosen


The writer is commanding officer of the violent crimes division, Baltimore Police Department.

Until we stop drug trade, police fight a losing battle

The Sun's editorial "Homicides 1999: What went wrong?" (Jan. 4) expresses appropriate concern about the murder rate in Baltimore and describes the urgent need to rebuild a professional and disciplined police force.

Unfortunately, it misses the point. All of the recent reporting and editorializing about the 308 murders in our city last year has nearly ignored the major underlying cause of "more than 75 percent" of the problem: the more than 75,000 adults in this city who are "believed to be dependent on heroin or cocaine."

Until this city and the country can find ways to dramatically reduce the number of drug addicts or the profits associated with satisfying them, the criminal justice system will remain overwhelmed by a criminal population it cannot control.

The police force will continue to be demoralized by the Sisyphean task of recycling criminals, but never really reducing their numbers.

For my family to stay in the city, we will need to feel protected from criminals of all kinds. We also need to see progress toward curing the underlying problems.

Michael T. Maguire


Police officers need more support, more pay

Recent Sun articles have suggested that Baltimore police officers have low morale because of our inability to stop or solve crimes ("Homicides 1999: What went wrong?" editorial, Jan 4).

The officers who are doing their best to combat crime in a city where crime is out of control.

As Ronald L. Daniel takes over as our new police commissioner, I hope that this is one issue he addresses.

Mr. Daniel certainly has his hands full with a complete overhaul of the agency. But knowing we have support from our command is needed to boost morale.

A sizable raise would be nice as well.

Edward Gorwell


The writer is a Baltimore City police officer.

Police helicopters offer safer way to chase suspects

In recent months, three drivers who were in the path of automobiles driven by suspects pursued by the Baltimore police have died ("Police to reconstruct collision that killed girl, 17," Dec. 29).

In the wake of these deaths, Police Commissioner Ronald L. Daniel needs to immediately restore Fox Trot, the police helicopter unit disbanded more than a year ago after the death of a police pilot.

Helicopters save lives (police and civilian), help apprehend criminals, save money on lawsuits, reduce officer injuries and, most important, instill public confidence that police have a handle on crime.

Charles Martin Fitzpatrick


How Baltimore added fluoride to its water

The Sun's dispatch from Mountain Lake Park, Garrett County, reporting that the town is still debating whether to fluoridate its drinking water, even though tooth decay is rampant among children in the area, recalls the battle over Baltimore's fluoridation of its water supply in the early 1950s ("For town, fluoride still hard to swallow," Jan. 3).

Then-mayor Thomas J. D'Alesandro Jr., having learned from the U.S. Public Health Service that fluoridation of drinking water was beneficial for children's teeth, was determined to make Baltimore the first large city in the country to fluoridate its water.

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