Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 10, 2003

Prosecutors and city police work together closely

The Sun's editorial "New chief's challenge" (Jan. 27) mischaracterized the level of coordination that occurs each day between the Baltimore Police Department and the state's attorney's office and inaccurately labeled my relationship with former Baltimore police Commissioner Edward T. Norris as "less than cordial."

If The Sun had contacted my office, I would have been happy to provide examples of how we work together each day to improve public safety for the citizens of Baltimore. Senior prosecutors in my office meet monthly with command staff at the Police Department to address issues of mutual concern. Prosecutors also attend ComStat meetings every Thursday. These meetings regularly yield results that point to a productive partnership.

For example, my office, working with the police, developed a computerized tracking system to ensure officers are available to testify for trials. This system has substantially reduced the Failure To Appear rate of officers, a source of frequent court postponements and case dismissals.

The editorial also failed to point out the need for a renewed commitment from City Hall to give this office the necessary resources to aggressively prosecute violent crime and to move forward on several joint initiatives that are stalled on City Hall's doorstep.

For instance, since July, I have urged city leaders to provide a designated team of police detectives assigned to the state's attorney's office to assist prosecutors in locating missing witnesses. Prosecutors are often forced to dismiss shooting cases because the state is unable to produce a witness or witnesses to testify.

And there has been no new funding from the city general fund for trial prosecutors or gun prosecutors since 1987. All gun prosecutors are funded through a patchwork of state and federal grant programs that will expire over the next 18 months.

As I look ahead, I recognize that many issues need further discussion. And I will continue to seek a greater level of cooperation with the Police Department in all our public safety initiatives, and trust that my partnership with incoming police Commissioner Kevin P. Clark will have a positive impact on further crime reductions and increase public safety for all of our citizens.

Patricia C. Jessamy

Baltimore

The writer is Baltimore's state's attorney.

Unruly teen-agers are tough to handle

Even though William Banks' shooting of three youths was a bit extreme, I can certainly sympathize with his frustration in trying to deal with juvenile delinquents ("Man, 60, pleads guilty to shooting three youths," Feb. 5).

For instance, Hampden has been plagued by the same group of teen-agers since last spring. They loiter on marble steps tossing cigarette butts and trash, destroy railings and other property, have stolen flower pots from windowsills and smoke marijuana in the playground at Elm Avenue. The police have been called numerous times, to no avail.

Maybe if these parents were held responsible for their offspring's actions, situations like the one involving Mr. Banks would not happen.

Kitty Deimel

Baltimore

Porous borders make nation vulnerable

Laxity about immigration has become a national disgrace. In less than four years, the number of immigrants living illegally in this country jumped by 1 million ("INS counts rise of 1 million in illegal immigrants," Feb. 1).

Unless the government rigidly enforces immigration laws at all of our borders, particularly at Mexico's porous entry points, the dangers from within are likely to grow.

Only days ago, after announcing tougher border inspections, the recently formed Department of Homeland Security embarrassingly admitted that its own undercover investigators were able to enter the United States using fake driver's licenses, counterfeit birth certificates, phony names and other false documents ("Undercover investigators use fake IDs to enter U.S.," Jan. 31).

In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorism, such revelations are shocking. We can only hope the Department of Homeland Security can live up to its name.

Albert E. Denny

Baltimore

U.S. has often fired the first shot

In "Drawing First" (Feb. 2), Michael Hill tells us that our country or any ally have always been the victim of aggression before we launched a war.

He must have been away from his desk during the U.S. attacks on Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and etc.

Richard R. Tatlow

Marriottsville

Signal pre-emption lets light rail work

Recent articles concerning the proposed Baltimore Region Rail System Plan are encouraging, as an integrated transit system is long overdue ("Put maglev, rail plan on fast track together," Jan. 27). However, the light rail components of such a system would attract many more riders if Baltimore enabled transit to have priority over automobiles at city intersections.

Currently, light-rail trains must stop at each intersection when cars and buses do, which impedes their progress.

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