Howard police acted correctly in DUI case

January 10, 2012

The Howard County Police Department is trying to reduce the carnage on our roads and highways, in part through what have been termed "saturation patrols" ("Howard County police and quotas," Jan. 9). Isn't this a worthy objective and a positive way to achieve it — targeting and stopping as many aggressive and drunk drivers as can be spotted before they cause injury or death to themselves or others?

Even if the officers are given a goal, which has been categorized as a quota, to make a certain number of traffic stops per shift, the traffic stops are based on witnessed behaviors — erratic or reckless driving, or speeding, which can be verified by radar equipment. This policy is not the same as a quota to catch drug offenders, for example, which may involve bias or racial profiling by stopping drivers on some pretext.

The officers are encouraged to catch as many dangerous drivers as they can and to be vigilant for aggressive behavior. This does not bear upon the guilt or innocence of a particular defendant in an individual case.

This young woman was seen and gauged as going more than 10 miles above the speed limit. Stopped for observable behavior (speeding) which could be quantified, the officer then tested her blood alcohol level, which was determined to be over twice the legal limit.

The offenses which gave rise to this acquittal took place in the spring of 2011. Before she even went to court on those charges, this same young woman was charged with speeding last October. And these are only the times that she was caught! The next time that we read about her, it could be when she injures or kills someone, and then the airwaves and blogosphere will be full of people crying about why the police and the courts didn't stop her sooner.

Nancy S. Spritz, Baltimore

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