The State Police place their lives on the line every day trying to keep drunken drivers off our highways so you and I can come home to our families safe and sound. And, while I am very thankful Trooper Barry was not one of the 225 people killed by drunken drivers on Maryland's highways in 2000, I am very angry that because Mr. Traveny "accidentally" hit Trooper Barry's parked cruiser, the trooper's life was forever changed and he was robbed of his goals.
This was no "accident." This was a motor vehicle crash caused by a drunken driver. And any one of us could have been Trooper Barry.
Police have lost the public's faith
I read the recent angry letter in response to the citizen's comment about the shooting of Officer Christopher Houser that the police have to "give respect to get it" ("Police earn respect with their blood," letters, July 31).
It is unfortunate that this citizen's comment accurately reflects the relationship with the public that has been created by the city's present police commissioner.
When I was a prosecutor in Baltimore, police officers were left with discretion to deal with nuisance offenses in ways other than arrests -- and people were not automatically "jacked up."
But now the police's cowboy mentality has eroded whatever good feelings existed between the police and many law-abiding citizens.
As a criminal defense attorney, I have spoken to young men who have been accosted and ordered to lie on the ground because they were walking in their neighborhood. No drugs were found and no arrests made, but it happens to them over and over again.
And a police officer who lives in the city has told me he has been stopped by the same police officer three times while walking his dog.
I have spoken to many of the old-timers in the city police department who recognize that there is now an us-against-them mentality in the neighborhoods they patrol. They regret that they can do nothing to alleviate the situation. And they realize that if they have a problem, no one is going to step out of the crowd to help them.
Is it any wonder that even when a small child is shot no one wants to talk to the police?
As long as the police treat people without respect, even putting their lives on the line will not satisfy the public.
Gary S. Bernstein
The writer is a former assistant state's attorney in Baltimore who now works as a defense attorney.
Asking for money isn't a crime
I'm curious about the training that will be provided to members of the business community who will testify in court ("Court watch group gets training," Aug. 1).
I hope these business people are trained about the truth.
In the article, for instance, panhandling is described as a crime. But panhandling is not a crime, despite the best efforts of the business community to make it so. "Aggressive solicitation," on the other hand, is a crime -- but there's a difference between the two.
The article cited a story about some people who were shoved by people asking for money. Shoving someone in that circumstance may be aggressive solicitation or even assault. But asking for money, whether we like to see it or not, is perfectly legal, not to mention constitutionally protected.
As the business community strives to discourage certain behaviors, I hope someone is keeping an eye on the civil rights of those who are not actually committing crimes.
Exaggerating danger from global warming
I am a former Sierra Club activist writing to take issue with a recent letter from a Sierra Club representative ("Warming trend turns heat more deadly," July 26). The letter is a wonderful example of the deceptive scare tactics the Sierra Club routinely uses to terrify the gullible.
Contrary to the writer's undocumented assertions, "scientists" do not predict that global warming will result in acute heat waves at our latitude. Even the most extreme proponents of the global warming hypothesis predict that the effects of global warming will be most pronounced in the Arctic and Antarctic latitudes, with little temperature rise at our latitude.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's own Web site states that global mean temperatures have risen 0.5 to 1.0 degree since the 19th century. That's hardly the killer heat wave the writer depicts.
And the Sierra Club's advocacy of wind power and solar power is a poorly thought-out fantasy. These forms of energy are just not practical or economically viable. And both solar power and wind power require the use of vast areas of land. Does the Sierra Club really want to replace the forests and fields of Maryland with windmills and solar panels? Would that give us a better environment?
If the writer and the Sierra Club are serious about reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide, they might consider supporting nuclear power, a viable energy source that produces no carbon dioxide.