- The Washington Times - Friday, July 29, 2005

Chief Ramsey’s virtues

Metropolitan Police Chief Charles Ramsey is not only professional and diligent in his crime-prevention and crime-fighting efforts in the District, but he also is a real sport (“Chief dunked like doughnut at police fair,” Metropolitan, Sunday).

He recently demonstrated his versatility at an event that celebrated a partnership between the 3rd District and the Northwest community. Daring to do what other chiefs might not, Ramsey good-naturedly allowed himself to be submerged in a dunk tank after his officers paid $5 a pop for the opportunity to hit a bull’s-eye, releasing the chief into the water.

The goodwill effort fostered a day of fun coupled with a meaningful purpose, raising money for a fall awards banquet for 3rd District officers. Police officers and community members of all ages mingled and reaffirmed that police officers are people who can engage with the community, establish effective relationships and simply have fun like everyone else. The daylong function was a successful venture that benefited the police and the community.

Chief Ramsey deserves credit for his well-balanced perspective of integrating law-enforcement efforts with community outreach. His constant monitoring of the community’s pulse, along with his keen awareness, skill and countless talents, enable him to pursue divergent approaches resulting in productive law enforcement endeavors.

Chief Ramsey is not the kind of police chief who is a mere figurehead. He is an astute, proactive and involved chief whose expanded approach should be welcomed in a city comprising a diverse population with varied problems. Chief Ramsey is an asset to this city.


Adjunct professor of criminal justice

George Mason University


Amtrak’s sleeper-car service

It would be a great loss if Amtrak eliminated its sleeper-car service (“Cost-cutters aim at Amtrak amenities,” Business, Wednesday).

In June, my 4-year-old daughter and I took a round-trip train journey between our hometown in Virginia and Birmingham, Ala. Though a family visit was one objective, the main purpose was the trip itself: the opportunity to share with my child the excitement of riding a sleeper train into the night.

On the trip down, the air conditioning broke, sewage odors wafted in and out of our compartment, the meals were mediocre, and we arrived two hours late. Nevertheless, exclamations from my daughter such as, “This is the best adventure ever” made all those adult disappointments seem like minor inconveniences.

Maybe some of Amtrak’s budget shortfalls could be made up through grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Train travel — like theater, music and ballet — produces pleasures that can’t be easily quantified.



Twisting the confirmation process

As Thomas Sowell notes in his July 28 Commentary column, “Geared for a fight … over ‘views’,” the “views” of John G. Roberts Jr. are irrelevant and none of his Senate inquisitors’ business. The Constitution should be interpreted as written based on the intent of those who wrote it. Only their views are important.

Twelve years ago, at the confirmation hearing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, nobody demanded document dumps or to know where she stood when she chose not to answer 30 questions she felt she was not bound by the Constitution to answer.

Canon 5 of the American Bar Association’s Model Code of Judicial Conduct, commonly referred to as “the Ginsburg rule,” “prohibits a candidate for judicial office from making statements that commit the candidate regarding cases, controversies, or issues likely to come before the court.”

When Sen. Patrick J. Leahy asked Mrs. Ginsburg a theoretical question about the Constitution and the separation of church and state, she replied: “I would prefer not to address a question like that.”

When Mr. Leahy persisted, Mrs. Ginsburg stated flatly, “I would prefer to await a particular case.” Mr. Leahy backed off, saying to Mrs. Ginsburg: “I understand. I understand, judge. Just trying.” He is not quite so understanding with Judge Roberts, nor are his colleagues.

In a letter sent in June 2002 to then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Leahy (who helped thwart Miguel Estrada’s confirmation for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia through similar requests for information) former Solicitors General Seth P. Waxman, Walter Dellinger, Drew S. Days III, Kenneth W. Starr, Charles Fried, Robert H. Bork and Archibald Cox said they could “attest to the vital importance of candor and confidentiality in the Solicitor General’s decision making process.”

Thatdecision-making process, they wrote, “required the unbridled, open exchange of ideas — an exchange that cannot take place if attorneys have reason to fear that their private recommendations are not private at all, but vulnerable to disclosure.”

The American Bar Association rates Mr. Roberts as “highly qualified.” Most of the rest is none of our business.



Handguns for troops a bad idea

Brig. Gen. Joseph J. Chaves apparently has no conception of the role of personal sidearms in the military (“Ill-equipped soldiers use excess force,” Page 1, Thursday).

Laudable though the general’s objective of protecting innocents may be, his proposed solution of arming convoy personnel with laser-sighted handguns and expecting them to transition to those handguns under stress and while in a moving vehicle is, quite simply, preposterous.

Handgun bullets are not guided missiles, and laser sights are aiming aids, not magic. Military personnel routinely carry their sidearms in flap holsters and without a round chambered. This makes them slow to bring into action. Even if our troops could transition from a crew-served weapon to a sidearm on their hip fast enough for it to be useful, the idea that they could then effectively use that sidearm to defend themselves from imminent threat presupposes Olympian levels of marksmanship and a level of stopping power that, in the standard-issue sidearm, is a dream that goes beyond the basic laws of physics.

Even worse, in virtually the same breath as his complaint that our troops are needlessly endangering innocents and should be re-equipped and expected not to do that, Gen. Chaves appears to suggest in all seriousness that an ancillary advantage of our troops all being equipped with sidearms would come from the fact that the oppressed people in Iraq are afraid of men with handguns because Saddam Hussein and his henchmen used their handguns to summarily murder those who were suspected of crimes. According to Gen. Chaves, our troops somehow would benefit from being identified not as liberators but as the successors of the previous oppressive regime.

Gen. Chaves needs to go to pistol school — or at least read a few magazines on his local newsstand. Our troops need leaders who know what they are saying before they accuse brave men of misconduct, individually or collectively.



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