After Dundalk siege: local media, police deserve credit...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 23, 2000

After Dundalk siege: local media, police deserve credit . . .

Kudos to the Baltimore media for truly handling the Palczynski hostage situation with restraint and intelligence.

It was obvious Joseph Palczynski had access to the media, and was watching it and trying to use it to his advantage. This was a case where his access to information made all the difference in the world.

Foregoing ratings, the media showed considerable strength in withholding information from the public. I was particularly impressed by WJZ-TV's willingness to hold back the telephone conversations it had with Mr. Palczynski.

This showed big business' concern for humanity, instead of for the almighty dollar. My faith in mankind has been restored.

Praise also goes to Baltimore County's finest. They could have gone in sooner, using tear gas or some other tactic, but no one knows what Palczynski's response would have been to such an approach.

That could have resulted in the loss of not just Palczynski's life, but of the hostages' lives.

The inconvenience caused to the people of the area over the last few days would have been nothing next to the grief and pain felt by many if the lives of the hostages had been forfeited needlessly.

Karen Widmyer

Catonsville

I would like to commend the Baltimore County police department for the excellent way it handled the hostage crisis in Dundalk. The patience the police showed kept the situation from further exploding.

I also want to commend the citizens of Dundalk for their patience in putting up with the extreme hardships to their families during this crisis.

I would hope that the justice system learns something from this experience and acts to prevent people such as Palczynski people from threatening society.

They need to be kept off the streets to protect the citizens.

Martin Mossa

Perry Hall

. . . but some feel police, court failings caused a crisis I, for one, was not impressed with the upper echelons of the Baltimore County police department's handling of the Joseph Palczynski manhunt and standoff.

They seemed to be able to shoot a pet dog, but utterly inept in dealing with the fugitive. I firmly believe that it was only because of the grace of God that the hostages were spared, not because of the conduct of the police.

I find no fault with the officers.

But police commanders were outclassed by an unemployed electrician, who managed for many days to elude all the county could bring to bear against him, make it all the way to Fredricksburg, Va. and back, then break into two more homes in eastern Baltimore County and hold a large part of the county in fear.

Edward C. Dorsch

Perry Hall

As a resident of the state of Maryland, I am angry and ashamed at what occurred with Joseph Palczynski.

The man had a history of domestic violence and mental illness; he had a 10-year prison sentence (suspended); and caused a standoff in Idaho -- only to be released on bail.

Now four innocent people and an unborn child have been murdered in cold blood, four children left without a parent, a 2 year-old shot in the face, a woman kidnapped, her family held hostage, carjackings and burglaries have been committed and a terrified community was held hostage and schools closed as Mr. Palczynski managed the total control and manipulation of a police force.

I am fed up. What is wrong with the justice system in Maryland?

Maybe it is time we started charging judges with accessory to murder.

Why is it that criminals have rights and victims do not?

David W. Evans

Baltimore

How could any parent leave a child held hostage?

Like all Baltimoreans, I am happy to see the Dundalk hostage situation come to an end. However, the hostages who escaped are being treated as heroes and I have reservations about this.

I can empathize with what the hostages have been through, but I would have never let my child be alone in such a situation while I ran for safety.

I do not know any good parent who would leave his or her child alone in a hostage situation with an alleged murderer. Personally, I would have thrown my child out of the window, and suffered the consequences myself.

Bonnie Seifert

Rosedale

Should Maryland confine ailing people like Palczynski?

I emphatically agree with E. Fuller Torrey and Mary Zdanowicz that "Maryland's laws miserably failed Joseph Palczynski, his victims and their families" ("State's failure to protect its own," Opinion Commentary, March 16).

I have provided care management services for more than 15 years to adults attempting to live independently in the community with mental illness.

Most of my clients take their medication as prescribed and do very well. They work, go to school and/or attend psychosocial programs during the day.

A few people refuse to take their medication and do not function well. They hear voices, hallucinate and may not maintain their personal hygiene.

A few have gotten into trouble with the law because of violent outbursts and physical altercations. After they resume their medication and are stabilized, they feel remorseful and ashamed.

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