Learn from Maryland's error
June 6, 2005 -- My wife and I are from southeastern Pennsylvania only 40 miles from Baltimore. We went to the ballgames, Orioles and Colts, and dined out there at their superb restaurants. It was a great city. No more. When they outlawed police pursuits the underworld took over. You could not even drive a "junker" there. The Pennsylvania license plates led to car theft, strong-arm robbery, rape and murder. The crime rate skyrocketed. It's still that way.
This spring we had to go back because of a death in the family. We arrived at the Baltimore/Washington airport at 1:30 a.m. Our relatives told us not to stop in our rented car for any reason. We were to get on the freeway and bypass and maintain 60 mph for at least 40 miles. No rest stops or coffee stops.
Let's hope and pray that the "no-pursuit" bill now before the legislature fails.
If it passes we will all fail.
-- John T. Mark, Paradise
Pursuits aren't outlawed
June 19, 2005 -- After reading John Mark's letter about crime in the Baltimore area, one could mistakenly conclude that mandatory reductions in police vehicular pursuits render police officers completely powerless.
Mark writes that the Baltimore crime rate has "skyrocketed" and implies it's solely because Baltimore has "outlawed pursuits."
I contacted the Baltimore mayor's office and learned that Baltimore has not outlawed pursuits. The Baltimore City Police Department (BCPD) allows chases for only the most serious offenses.
BCPD's website has this 2004 headline: "Baltimore Once Again Posts Dramatic Reductions in Violent Crime Rate: Violent Crime Drops 40 percent since 1999."
And, from the Baltimore County Police Department's website: Detectives of the Regional Auto Theft Task Force have reduced auto theft nearly in half. In 1994, a total of 19,892 auto thefts were reported in the county and city. By 2004, that number had dropped to 9,231. The task force accomplished these results primarily through innovative attacks on chop shops and insurance fraud.
Mark implies crimes against people driving rental cars are just a Baltimore/Washington airport phenomenon. I've received e-mails about car rental crimes. The cities vary depending on the sender's location.
Mark is also incorrect about a "no-pursuit bill." No such bill even exists. Law enforcement's bill is before the Legislature, but you'll need a magnifying glass to see the changes it makes to California's pursuit practices. The year or two of additional jail time a person might get for fleeing is an insult to pursuit victims and officers.
-- Candy Priano, Chico