Letters To The Editor


February 06, 2005

New strategy offers hope in war on crime

While Baltimore's more cynical residents might respond to the new police strategy by saying, "Well, duh," I'd like to focus on its potential for success ("High-crime areas are targets in police plan," Jan. 29).

We residents of the city need to face the ugly truth. The vast majority of the murders here occur in relatively concentrated segments of the city. Nearly all are targeted, are related to the illegal drug trade and are black-on-black.

My wife and I live in a neighborhood virtually free of street crime. Yet I doubt police headquarters has a greater presence of patrol cars over the course of a day.

Not long ago, a tail light went out on my wife's car. She was ticketed, but more significantly, she was stopped three more times within the week for the same offense.

In a rural town virtually free of violent crime, one might applaud such diligence on the part of law enforcement.

In a city where some citizens live in neighborhoods that are virtually free-fire zones, to say that some might question the priorities of our police force would be too kind.

It is human nature for police officers to take the least-threatening, safest approach to the course of their duties.

But I seriously doubt stopping my wife repeatedly for a minor vehicle infraction will "take a bite out of crime."

Maybe an emphasis on law enforcement in our drug-ridden neighborhoods will help.

Joe Roman


Meaning of murder depends on location

A little more than a week after the murder of a Johns Hopkins senior, university President William R. Brody sent an e-mail to students, families and faculty stating, "I pledge to you that we will spend whatever it takes to secure this community" ("Hopkins to spend an extra $2 million to improve security," Feb. 1).

I guess my concern centers around the use of the word "community" through a Johns Hopkins lens.

Even if Johns Hopkins chooses to spend money to create a slightly larger Homewood campus oasis in North Baltimore, with security cameras and more police patrols, the university will remain very much inside the city of Baltimore.

And the announcement of the increase in security spending came the day that the city had its 31st murder of the year.

Doesn't the word community imply some amount of space beyond the Homewood campus? Yet if you're not a Johns Hopkins student, the definition of murder seems to be very different.

Media reports about murder victims just a few blocks east, south and west often don't include names, families, jobs or friends, especially if your news source is a local television station on which compelling stories about how shoveling snow is hard work overshadow murders in the poorer communities in West and Southeast Baltimore.

And the "Hopkins community" is not alarmed that some of the murders in 2005 have been within walking distance of the Homewood campus, including the triple murder in Remington earlier this year.

A murder within what are perceived as the walls of Johns Hopkins is treated as far more significant than a murder in West Baltimore.

After all, no one is trying to seduce parents into spending $35,000 a year to send their children to West Baltimore.

Megan Kashdin


President's remarks offer no reassurance

The president's address, not surprisingly, did nothing to relieve my fears about the next four years ("Reform of Social Security at the top of Bush agenda," Feb. 3). From the endangered environment to Social Security and everything in between, the prospects look pretty uncertain.

Privatizing Social Security and dealing with the transition costs would only add to our unbelievable national debt.

I imagine investment companies can hardly wait. But for those like myself who find the world of stocks and bonds an unpredictable minefield, the president's words ring hollow.

E. Kaufman


Slots would extend gambling addiction

I read with interest Nicholas Leonhardt's column on the rise of gambling, specifically poker-playing, among young people ("Young poker players taking a big gamble," Opinion Commentary, Jan. 30).

I remember gambling back when I was in school. For us it was mild and short-lived diversion; our culture taught us that no good could come of it.

Now, with slot machines and gambling billed as the panacea for our budgetary ailments, young people will find more and more opportunities to turn what was just a diversion into full-fledged addiction and even death.

These are hidden costs of the "no new taxes" approach.

T. Bayard Williams


Elimination of life merits no tolerance

Obviously, Ellen Goodman just doesn't get it. In "It's time for abortion foes to yield ground" (Opinion Commentary, Jan. 31), she writes as if the motivation of pro-lifers is similar to those who want their taxes reduced or of those who simply seek a bigger share of the budget pie.

Wake up, Ms. Goodman. A couple of politically motivated speeches by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton do not change anything.

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