- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 8, 2000

Mother of murdered officer praises D.C. police leaders

I was more than a little distressed to read the Jan. 24 Op-Ed column by Carl Rowan Jr. "Wrong men for the wrong jobs," frankly, came across to me as Mr. Rowan's personal tirade against Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Charles H. Ramsey and Executive Assistant Chief Terrance W. Gainer. Since I am not a D.C. police officer, I am not able to address the specific issues brought up or the harsh picture painted to discredit two men who have been in these positions for less than two years. I am, however, a relative of a deceased police officer, and I feel that in all fairness, MPD and the people of this city should hear what the "absentee landlord and a despot" have done for the survivors of MPD officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

In the pre-dawn hours of a cold, rainy February morning in 1997, three years ago this past Saturday, my son, Master Patrol Officer Brian T. Gibson, was gunned down as he sat in his marked police cruiser at an intersection in Northwest. Three weeks later, Officer Oliver Wendell Smith Jr. was murdered during a robbery after the robbers discovered he was a police officer. Two months later, Officer Robert L. Johnson Jr. was killed within feet of the police station where he worked three police officers murdered within three months.

Chief Ramsey and Chief Gainer were not in their "wrong" jobs at the time. However, I can tell you that both men have stood outside in the rain in February at 3 a.m. with my family and officers from the 4th and other districts on the spot where Brian died, to pay tribute to him. I can tell you that they found time to be in a courtroom in Prince George's County to support the Smith family during the trial of the murderers of Officer Smith. I also can tell you that Chief Gainer sat by the bedside of Officer Scott Shaffer Lewis' mother as she lay dying, to let her know that her son's life was not given in vain; that Chief Gainer has spoken at the funerals of MPD officers of many races. I can tell you that for the past two Christmases, these two men have stood out in the cold in front of MPD headquarters as we survivors of MPD officers have lighted a tree in remembrance of our lost loved ones. Now we read that the executive assistant chief has a "problem with African Americans that borders on racism"? How it pains me to have Mr. Rowan and his "white friend" I would guess that is to make the accusations more credible cry racism.

When Brian was murdered, Chief Ramsey was not even in the District. However, from the moment that he hit town, he has treated the surviving families with the utmost respect and has steadfastly offered comfort and support. In addition, we must commend him and Chief Gainer for tirelessly advocating the remembrance of our lost loved ones. Either Chief Ramsey or Chief Gainer has been in attendance at nearly every memorial service.

In my interaction with other survivors nationwide, a great number express surprise at the close relationship between D.C. survivors and MPD officials. I feel fortunate to have Chief Ramsey and Chief Gainer, as well as the other assistant chiefs, commanders and the whole of MPD, working as advocates for the survivors. I truly believe MPD will never forget my sacrifice, nor will the department abandon its survivors.

As I said above, I cannot comment on the feelings of every officer in D.C. toward the chief and executive assistant chief. However, when it comes to their interaction with police survivors, I will tirelessly defend both Chief Ramsey and Chief Gainer.

SHIRLEY A. GIBSON

Washington

Not the first time first lady has stolen a moment from an ex-president

On April 22, 1994, while the nation held a deathwatch for former President Richard M. Nixon, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton chose to give an hourlong press conference (complete with pink sweater, a la Jacqueline Kennedy) to explain her cattle futures investing prowess and address other questions of ethics. It seemed that she could not stand for the country's attention to be on a former president.

So how does she top that arrogant move? By choosing the 89th birthday of Ronald Reagan to announce her official campaign for a U.S. Senate seat for New York. She may have all the press coverage, but my thoughts and prayers were with the man from Tampico, Ill., who in my humble opinion will be remembered as the greatest American president of the 20th century.

May God bless the Gipper.

FRANK FAHEY

Baltimore

Catholic priest gets unfair treatment in editorial

Regarding the editorial on the controversy over naming a new chaplain for the House of Representatives ("Congressional wars of religion," Feb. 2), it is disingenuous to argue the case for the Rev. Charles Wright by saying he "had the support of at least half the committee." The fact is that the only candidate who had a majority of votes from both parties was the Rev. Timothy O'Brien, the Catholic priest whom House Speaker Dennis J. Hastert and House Majority Leader Dick Armey rejected over the will of the selection committee and the will of House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt.

It is a canard to say that Father O'Brien lacked sufficient pastoral experience. He not only has degrees in the area, he has counseled soldiers for nearly three decades as a colonel in the Army Reserve, has worked in youth ministries most of his life and has served as a parish priest ministering to the faithful. Just because he has a doctorate in political science is hardly reason to conclude that he is deficient in pastoral work. Are we to believe that only Mr. Hastert and Mr. Armey were able to pick up on this alleged deficiency?

The Catholic League has every reason to be "up in arms" over this. There are enough contradictions over the issue of what Mr. Hastert and Mr. Armey knew about Father O'Brien's being the top choice of the selection committee to make one conclude that the process was tainted. The contradictions came in the form of letters to me and news reports that cite committee members and their spokespersons.

I find it striking that the editorial never mentioned the illegitimate questions Father O'Brien was asked by some Republicans in the second round of interviews. Most offensive was Rep. Steve Largent's asking Father O'Brien whether he would wear his clerical collar if selected as House chaplain. Father O'Brien should have asked Mr. Largent what his real agenda was: The outgoing House chaplain has been wearing an identical collar for 21 years. Is it because Father O'Brien wears a "Roman" collar? If pastoral experience is so central, why was Father O'Brien asked inane questions about his favorite passages from Scripture? We also need to know what was behind the question about his ability to counsel married persons.

The editorial rightfully credits President Ronald Reagan and Sen. Richard Lugar for their pro-Catholic positions. But it also says that their effort to secure diplomatic relations with the Vatican was done "against the wishes of Protestant groups."It would be instructive to know if those who worked against the Vatican connection are working against Father O'Brien.

Finally, I must say that never before have I seen the Catholic community gain such fast friends from those not typically accustomed to helping Catholics on anything. These phonies aside, there are real problems associated with this process, and that is why we will not let this issue die.

WILLIAM A. DONOHUE

President

Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

New York

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Your Feb. 2 editorial on the lack of anti-Catholic bias in the selection of a new chaplain for the House of Representatives gave more credibility to the bias claim and made you part of it. You tried to give more credibility to the claims that the Rev. Timothy O'Brien was a political science professional and had no pastoral experience and conveniently forgot to mention his following qualifications:

n Holds an undergraduate degree in pastoral ministry.

n Has completed specialized studies, including in counseling and addictive personality.

n Has been a consultant to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Department of Social Ministry, since 1984.

n Served as chaplain at Walter Reed Medical Center.

n Has counseled soldiers male and female, single and married as a colonel in the Army Reserve for three decades.

n Has worked in youth ministries most of his life.

If that does not qualify a person for the job, I don't know what does.

JOSE CARBONELL

Alexandria

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Your Feb. 2 editorial on the lack of anti-Catholic bias in the selection of a new chaplain for the House of Representatives gave more credibility to the bias claim and made you part of it. You tried to give more credibility to the claims that the Rev. Timothy O'Brien was a political science professional and had no pastoral experience and conveniently forgot to mention his following qualifications:

n Holds an undergraduate degree in pastoral ministry.

n Has completed specialized studies, including in counseling and addictive personality.

n Has been a consultant to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Department of Social Ministry, since 1984.

n Served as chaplain at Walter Reed Medical Center.

n Has counseled soldiers male and female, single and married as a colonel in the Army Reserve for three decades.

n Has worked in youth ministries most of his life.

If that does not qualify a person for the job, I don't know what does.

JOSE CARBONELL

Alexandria



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