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Friday, November 30, 2007

Use of Tasers - Is This What We Really Want?

Connie Castanera

November 18, 2007, Jarrel Gray died as a result of being struck by a Taser, administered by a Frederick County Deputy. He was only 20 years old. After he was struck once, he allegedly fell to the ground. Only 23 Seconds after being struck the first time, he was struck again! It is my understanding that the reason he was struck in the first place was because he did not immediately respond to commands given by the Deputy to get on the ground.

Assuming that it was acceptable to use a Taser, in the first place, on a young man that had been engaged in an altercation, as many young males will occasionally find themselves; why was it necessary to administer a second shock after he was on the ground? This is simply not acceptable. Some may justify the Deputy's actions, because he had not dropped to the ground when commanded to do so by the Deputy. It may be an easy justification for some, when it does not involve a member of their own family.

How many families can claim that they have never had a young family member involved in a fight? I venture to guess not many. I'm not suggesting that it is alright for young men to resolve their differences using violence. But, if they find themselves engaged in a physical altercation, it certainly does not give us good reason to put their lives at risk by using a Taser gun to subdue them.

What method did police use, prior to Taser technology, to subdue young people in the same kinds of situations? Would that Deputy have used a Taser if it had been his brother, son, cousin, or even a neighbor? I think not.

Two weeks prior to Jarrel Gray's death, a Frederick County Sheriff's Deputy used a Taser on Dereck Holland, a student at Tuscarora High School. According to the Frederick News Post, Sheriff Jenkins claims that, "Studies have proven the weapon, considered non-lethal, is safe and effective." Really? Why did Jarrel Gray die if it is non-lethal and safe? Jenkins asserts, "The 130 deputies who currently carry Tasers will continue to do so," and he claims that he has no plans to discontinue their use. That concerns me.

November 22, 2007, The Frederick News Post published an article entitled "Expert: Taser use is safe." The article featured expert testimony on Taser technology by Alan Goldberg, a Montgomery County Police Department commander. The following two paragraphs, taken from that article, leave me with great fear and concern for some of our residents.

Goldberg said Montgomery officers have used the devices about 130 times in the past couple of years. He expects that number will go up — the department recently ordered 260 Tasers to bring its supply to about 600, for 1,200 sworn officers.

"We don't have a blanket rule, but the Taser is the only nonlethal weapon we have to get people under control very quickly," he said. "It's based on the threat posed, whether the person is elderly or extremely young and whether the officer is alone or has backup."

Will the Sheriff's department continue to use Tasers in our schools and on our young people when they exhibit defiant behavior? If so, I fear that we could wind up attending a lot more funerals. We need to speak up and let our voices be heard before it's too late. If even one more life is lost, due to the use of Tasers, it is too late.

I believe that there is a place for the use of Tasers, by our police. But, I would reserve that for hardened criminals that cannot be subdued any other way, who pose a threat to our lives and/or the lives of the officers involved.

When it comes to our young people like those that have made the news headlines, let's arrest them, and put them in jail, if they become unmanageable and defiant, but let's not take the chance of killing them by using Tasers. There has to be another way!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Some Thoughts on the CNN/YouTube Republican Presidential Debate

All I can say after watching the Republican Presidential Debate last night is I am glad I am a Democrat.

CNN started out the Debate with YouTube questions pertaining to illegal immigration, an issue they knew was sure to light up emotions and they were right. The first exchange was between Governor Mitt Romney (Mass) and Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Romney began with accusing Giuliani of supporting safe haven for illegal immigrants and Giuliani firing back about how Romney had hired illegal immigrants to work on his home.

After a continued exchange between the two, the other candidates took turns talking about how tough they would be on immigration. This exchange set the tone for the rest of the debate as the candidates did their best at being able to say "I got you" to each other.

I will not be voting for any of them but I would say that Governor Mike Huckabee had the best night of all of them and utilized several good one-liners for laughs. Whether it was being for getting rid of the IRS, or welcoming support from the Log Cabin Republicans even though he opposed same-sex marriages, he came across as genuine. One of the good one-liners was a response to a YouTube question concerning what Jesus would do concerning the death penalty with Huckabee saying that Jesus was too smart to run for public office. Another was in response to supporting putting a man on Mars by 2020 and while he did not directly answer the question he did say he would put Hillary (Sen. Clinton) on the first spaceship to Mars.

Governor Mitt Romney just came across as totally plastic and continued the Republican candidates practice of ignoring President George W. Bush and instead spoke about his commonality with former Republican President Ronald Reagan.

Senator John McCain looked tired and his continued support of the war in Iraq seemed to also be wearing thin among Republicans. Senator Fred Thompson scored some early points with some strong language on immigration but faded after that answer. All of the candidates were able to show a campaign video and his video was the only one that attacked other Republican candidates with taped "I got you statements" of what they had said at some point in their political careers. This video received a negative reaction from the audience.

The rest of the candidates did not receive much attention although congressman Ron Paul did get audience reaction when he spoke of bringing the troops home from Iraq now. His populist approach is appealing to some and his campaign is doing extremely well in fund-raising online, raising 4.3 million in one day.

An interesting question asked by Anderson Cooper to Giuliani concerned a report by Politico (their link is on the right hand margin under Media on our Home Page) concerning security provided to him, his girl friend and his wife when he was Mayor and improper accounting of the expense to taxpayers. Giuliani denied any wrong doing here and was not asked any additional follow up questions. More will come out on this so stay tuned to this story.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

CNN/YouTube Republican Debate Tonight

The two-hour debate begins at 8 pm EST. Let's see how CNN and moderator Anderson Cooper conducts this Debate. CNN received criticism after the last Democratic Debate hosted by Wolf Blitzer. Some felt Blitzer was too soft on Senator Hillary Clinton and reportedly some questions were planted with audience members to be asked of candidates.

The Democratic Presidential candidates already had their CNN/YouTube Debate back in July. After that Debate some Republican candidates stated they would not participate in a YOUTube Debate format while others stated scheduling conflicts. This Debate eventually was rescheduled and hopefully all the Republican candidates for President will attend.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Should Fort Detrick Bio-Defense Research Expansion be Reviewed?

Frederick County Commissioner David Gray (R) pushed for the recently held public Forum to allow additional testimony on the planned expansion of biological research labs at Fort Detrick located in Frederick, Maryland for the purpose of defensive research on deadly pathogens.

This Forum occurred after many individuals had lobbied him hard for the need for additional testimony to be heard. They succeeded in having four of the five member board of county commissioners present for the meeting. Republican John Thompson was the only commissioner not present at the community forum held in the Hearing Room of the City of Frederick government offices. However, no representatives from the federal government or Fort Detrick attended the Forum.

The main point by those providing testimony pertained to if sufficient effort was undertaken by the government in looking for alternative sites to locate these biological research labs. One would reason that this type of research, regardless of security and containment measures should occur in a remote area. The City of Frederick happens to be one of the fastest growing communities in Maryland.

The argument by many who testified was the need to review the process the government undertook to review alternative sites, one section of the required Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) submitted on this project.

They were requesting the Frederick County Government join in a judicial review of this process. Presumably due to all the required steps leading to approval of the Fort Detrick expansion have already been met and the cost of pursuing a judicial review is cost prohibitive for individuals.

Judging by the reaction by several of the commissioners following the meeting, it is doubtful Frederick County Government will join in this suit. At the end of the Forum, Commissioner Charles Jenkins (R) asked a local attorney who was providing testimony to give his estimate of the cost of a judicial review. This lead to a heated exchange between the two with the Commissioner leaving the room. Commissioner Kai Hagen (D) thanked people for their testimony but did not offer any support for their request. Finally, Board President Jan Gardner (D) made a statement saying she had been in touch with an aide to U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (Md) and was hopeful of another public meeting with representatives of the federal government and Fort Detrick present.

This idea presented by Commissioner Gardner should be actively pursued by the entire Board of Commissioners as well as the elected officials of the City of Frederick. At this Forum only four of the over 50 people who testified spoke in favor of the planned expansion.

The efforts of this group of concerned citizens to be heard may be too late for the required public notices, but concerns of citizens as to the health and safety of the community in which they live should never be too late to be heard.

Regardless of whether required public notices and meetings have been met, local elected officials should encourage representatives from the federal government and Fort Detrick to attend a well publicized Forum. Then they will be able to answer additional questions from concerned citizens of the community.

At one point in the history of Fort Detrick, biological warfare research involving highly toxic pathogens was conducted in secret. This was disclosed when President Richard Nixon announced the United States was ending research in this area.

While the involvement in the local community and the safety record of Fort Detrick is excellent, it is not without mishaps. Grady and Tina O'Rear testified at the forum that the wells of their home and other adjoining properties they own had been contaminated and they had to hook up to public water lines. Nearby the O'Rear properties it is likely improper disposal of material in the past led to the multi million clean up of the land presumed to have been used as a Dump by Fort Detrick.

Over the years, Fort Detrick has been active in the community in many positive ways, worked hard at being a good neighbor, and has been the largest employer in Frederick County.

However, all of these wonderful efforts and benefits received from Fort Detrick does not mean additional discussion should not be held concerning the health and safety of the surrounding community as a result of planned expansion.

The issue is not whether Fort Detrick has been a good neighbor and provided employment to many within the community. The issue is the health and safety of the community. The risk of a deadly pathogen escaping from secured and contained labs is very unlikely. The risk of a terrorist act on this facility is also probably minute. However, an unfortunate incident involving a deadly pathogen could have a devastating effect on the community.

In spite of the benefits to the community from the planned growth and jobs that would result from this expansion, it should be demonstrated exhaustive efforts were made to examine alternative remote areas for this research.

The argument supporting the need for the government to conduct this type of research for defensive purposes is a strong one. However, every effort should be made to locate the labs in a extremely desolate area.

Why not hold another public forum and ask the representatives from Fort Detrick and the federal government to explain the efforts that were made to search for alternatives sites?

Our Poll this week is "Should Tasers be Removed from Schools"?

Remember to cast you vote - the Poll closes at 11 pm on Sunday. Each week we will have a different Poll.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Say No to Tasers in Schools

Guy Djoken

After the NAACP Press conference held last Tuesday, November 20 at the C. Burr Artz Public Library downtown, it was gratifying to have Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins present and reaching out to us.

Despite our call for the State and Federal investigations on the use of Tasers by his deputies, we are looking forward to a constructive dialogue that will benefit Frederick County.

During the press conference, several Taser victims shared their ordeal and the individual facts surrounding their circumstances. One of them, accompanied by his mother and his lawyer and still suffering from the effects of the taser was able to present his case directly to us and Sheriff Jenkins.

After the incident during which he was tased, he showed up at the Sheriff's office to file a complaint against the deputy and was further victimized by other officers who ridiculed him. Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins who was not aware of the incident took note and promptly reacted to get more information on the case and promised to get to the bottom of it.

We hope and pray that the outrage expressed by Sheriff Chuck Jenkins during and after the press conference will translate into a real sense of urgency at his office as is required by this sad situation.

Many of us are wondering if a grand standing on this issue following the November 8th tasing incident on school grounds could have prevented the recent death of Jarrel Gray. In any case we are actively working to make sure that this tragedy be the last taser incident in Frederick County resulting in a death of a person.

In our quest to end discrimination and fight for justice for all, it is very important that we work with all elected officials to achieve that goal. Just like Justice Thurgood Marshall stated decades ago, the path to equality for all in our community is intrinsically linked to a rule of law that is effective and color blind.

We are under no illusion that this will be happening soon. With a little bit of courage, hard work and frank dialogue, we may be able to establish the positive kind of working relationship we currently have with Police Chief Dine of the City of Frederick with whom we have been working closely with for the last five years. We know it is possible and we look forward to materializing it.

In the meantime, the NAACP is calling on all those who believe that the tasers should be kept out of Schools to join us during the Frederick County Board of Education Meeting Wednesday, November 28, 2007 at 7:00PM. Mr. Daryl Boffman, member of the Frederick County Board of Education, will be submitting before the Board, a proposal to do just that.

I am hopeful that the whole board will embrace such a proposal and I invite you to join us to be a part of it.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Time for Change in Pakistan

Another former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif is returning to Pakistan and reportedly will be allowed to stay this time. He and Benazir Bhutto are former Prime Ministers and leaders of the two largest opposition parties in Pakistan. Presumably, both will be filing papers to run for Prime Minister in the upcoming Parliamentary election.

Sharif was exiled to Saudi Arabia when Pervez Musharraf in a bloodless coup, removed Sharif from office and took control of Pakistan in 1999. When Sharif attempted to return to Pakistan in September after the now removed Supreme Court Justices had signaled it was allowable, Musharraf refused him entry and sent him back to Saudi Arabia.

As long as Musharraf stays in power there will continue to be unrest in Pakistan. True democratic reform will not occur until the removed Supreme Court Justices are returned to their seats on the Supreme Court. It is now time for Musharraf to not only remove his General uniform but to also step down as President of Pakistan.

The reinstated Supreme Court Justices should then appoint members of an interim caretaker government. The first action taken by the caretaker government should be lifting the suspension of the constitution. Then a date or dates should be set as soon as feasible for the election of President and for the Parliament. These elections should be monitored by the UN or the Carter Center to help ensure fairness.

Until the removed Supreme Court Justices are reinstated, the U.S. should place contingencies on the continued millions sent to Pakistan on a monthly basis. The U.S. financing of a Dictator in order to ensure a military alliance is wrong and provides fuel to anti U.S. sentiment by sending the wrong message out to the world.

The support of Human Rights should always be foremost in foreign policy decisions made by the United States.

MD Special Session Over, Now What?

Presumably, all the budget deficit problems facing the state of Maryland were solved during the three week special session of the general assembly called by Governor Martin O'Malley. Even the contentious issue of Slots (video lottery terminals) has been put off for another year and left for the voters to decide.

The MD general assembly also passed during the special session approximately 550 million in proposed spending cuts for the next fiscal year. While they were specific in regard to approximately 300 million in cuts, they graciously left the other 250 million in cuts up to the discretion of the Governor.

So now that all the excitement of the Maryland general assembly meeting in a special session is over, what's left to take action on when regular 90 day session begins in January?

Well to begin with, the Governor by Maryland constitution has to submit a budget to the general assembly and it must be balanced and approved by the end of the general assembly session. So the 550 million in spending cuts must be submitted by the Governor
and approved by the general assembly.

Look for some contentious discussions as to what services are being reduced and by what amount. Obviously, the Governor would be well advised to follow the suggested 300 million in cuts by the general assembly as that discussion has already occurred and consensus reached but where will the other 250 million in cuts come from?

Expect some serious battles here, especially in the area of reduced funding to county governments.

That leads us back to what exactly was accomplished by the approval of a Referendum on Slots. First, no money was received to offset the estimated 1.7 billion structural budget deficit of the state. Second, only five locations were approved with a limit of 15,000 video lottery terminals. Third, the amount of proceeds to go toward aiding the ailing horse racing industry in the state was negligible, and Fourth, a provision was passed which said in part, the state would adhere to local government enacted zoning which prohibited Slots in their jurisdiction.

So the possibility exists the the voters of Maryland could vote to approve the 2008 Slots Referendum with the five referenced locations, yet have local zoning ban Slots in these areas. The state would then be left with no added revenue in future years to fund the intended services proposed by the Governor.

Maryland would have been better served had their elected representatives done what they were elected to do and made the decisions as to the implementation and approval of Slots.

In addition to continued debate on funding reductions, there will be discussion on many other issues. Expect the death penalty in Maryland to surface again for discussion as well as a discussion on same-sex marriages.

Perhaps the Maryland Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO) will receive some attention. This entity was established by the state in 1984 to help develop properties for purposes that serve the public interest. Reportedly the net deficit of this program has tripled over the last several years. Is owning and operating the Rocky Gap Resort in Western Maryland at an annual loss in the best interest of the public? It is probably time to examine this program and conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the assets owned to see if some assets should be sold and whether this corporation is operating as it was intended.

As issues come up for discussion during the course of the regular session of the Maryland general assembly, keep an eye on the economy as we enter 2008. A reduction in projected revenues as a result of a downturn in the economy would have a significant impact on the budget and services provided by the state.

Outside of passing the buck on Slots, Governor O'Malley did a good job in the recent special session by providing the framework for, and building consensus toward, a solution to the state's 1.7 billion deficit. Time will be the judge as to the success of this legislation. The state will continue to face challenges in the future in many areas and it appears O'Malley is up to the task in facing them.

Friday, November 23, 2007

No Tolls in Frederick County, Please!

Connie Castanera
A front page headline of the Frederick News Post (November 19th) asks, "Can tolls work?" The answer to that depends on the desired outcome. If your goal is to increase the traffic backups on our already busy roads, by all means, install the tolls. If you think you've experienced the worst traffic back-ups you've ever seen in Frederick County, you're in for a big surprise! It will get far worse with tolls.

The article asserts that Commissioner John L. Thompson Jr. said, "Money, not words, is needed to solve the traffic congestion problem." I can agree that money is what is needed, but I believe the method proposed to get the money will only make traffic congestion worse.

After reading the article, I visited the Frederick County Government website to see where Commissioner Thompson grew up and lived most of his life. As I suspected, he is a native of Frederick County and has spent his entire life living in Frederick County. I'm not suggesting that anything is wrong with that. But, if he had ever lived or spent any time in New Jersey or New York, where there are tolls, I'm certain that he would never have suggested that we install tolls on our already congested highways. That would be a huge mistake.

Let me give you an example of how tolls would worsen the congestion. Surely, you have all seen the results of a simple distraction on our highways, such as a disabled car on the roadside, or a summons being issued by an officer, or the worst is an accident. The normal flow of traffic seems to slow down and, at times, come to a complete stop, due to rubbernecking. Can you imagine what happens when everyone has to stop to pay a toll?

Commissioner Thompson suggested that vehicles be "equipped with an EZ Pass-type device that electronic toll arches could read without affecting highway speed," and proposed that it be required. It is absolutely not true about it not affecting highway speed. I have had EZ Pass almost since its inception and I have always had to slow my speed down considerably, as I passed through the toll coming from or going to New Jersey.

I grew up in New Jersey, and have made many trips there, to visit family, in the last 8 years. The most agonizing part of every trip was the traffic congestion due to tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike or the Garden State Parkway. Having EZ Pass has helped but having a toll booth, in the first place, is what causes the congestion.

My husband always lightened the stress of sitting in traffic by announcing, "If I were to become President of the United States, the first thing I would do, would be to get rid of all the tolls in the entire country!" He says the same thing every time we are in New Jersey, sitting in traffic due to tolls. It has gotten to the point that as soon as I hear him begin to utter, "If I were to become President," I interrupt him by saying, "I know, I know, you'd get rid of the tolls!"

If the intended outcome is to reduce traffic back-ups, let's just find some other way to fund it, rather than installing tolls. Let's widen the highways by adding more lanes. By adding tolls to 70 and 270, the highest price would be paid by the commuters, who are already paying a high price with their investment of time (sitting in traffic), and money (in additional gas used). Tolls will certainly increase the time spent sitting in traffic, as well as money spent on gasoline. I guarantee it.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Have a great day! Enjoy all the good food and time spent with family and friends.

As I was driving to pick up my coffee this morning the song "Alice's Restaurant" came on and it brought back many memories. As I was laughing and trying to sing along, my thoughts went to those individuals in the armed forces that serve in harms way.

Let's hope for the safety of our armed forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations around the world and for the development and implementation of a well planned out exit strategy of the U.S. involvement in Iraq.

By the way, does anyone remember who sang "Alice's Restaurant"?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Should U.S. Financial Aid to Pakistan Continue?

President George W. Bush continues to receive failing grades in regard to his foreign policy. The current Dictator of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf has made a mockery of establishing a democratic path for his country.

In the last several weeks, Musharraf has removed all the Justices of the Supreme Court, declared a suspension of the constitution (established marshal law), imprisoned thousands who protested his actions, cut off communication of independent media sources, and put one opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto under house arrest on two separate occasions.

All of these actions were necessary to quell the threat of Islamic militants and for the protection of the people of Pakistan according to Musharraf. He wasn't done yet though, as he went on to appoint new Justices to the Supreme Court, who subsequently validated his recent reelection as President.

Now, after receiving a slap on the wrist by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, Musharraf has indicated he will take off his General uniform soon and schedule the parliamentary elections for January. Pakistan's Deputy Army Commander, General Ashfaq Kayani appears to be the favorite to assume that position.

All the while, the United States continues to send hundreds of millions to Pakistan. Although the U.S. is an ally with this nuclear armed nation, the mountainous border area with Afghanistan has become a haven for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. In spite of the huge amount of U.S. funds, Musharraf has been unable to have his army root out the terrorists from this area resulting in a resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The continuance of U.S. funds to Pakistan should be contingent on several factors: 1. the reinstatement of the former Supreme Court Justices. 2. an agreement on the part of Musharraf to abide by their ruling concerning the legality of his recent election. 3. a end to the suspension of the constitution and a return to the rule of law. 4. a date set no later than January for the parliamentary elections and if necessary, based on the ruling by the Supreme Court, a new election for President.

In developing U.S. foreign policy positions in the future, Human Rights should be in the forefront with the understanding that "right beats might" in the long run every time. Let's hope for a peaceful resolution to the situation in Pakistan.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ft.Detrick Expansion in Frederick, Md. Questioned

Over 50 people showed up to give testimony in front of the Frederick County Commissioners last night concerning the planned expansion of the biological research facility located on the grounds of Fort Detrick.

Absent from the conversation was any representative from the U.S. government or Fort Detrick. Their reported reason for not attending was they had already complied with all rules and regulations pertaining to providing testimony to the public.

At the end of the evening only four individuals had spoken in favor of the expansion, one of whom was a former US Army commander of the installation.

The rest of the testimony centered around whether the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prepared by the U.S. government failed to show sufficient study had been made as to alternative sites for conducting biological weapons defense research.

Beth Willis and Barry Kissin, a local activist and attorney requested the Frederick County Commissioners file for a court review of the process. This request was echoed by the majority of those testifying.

Fort Detrick was a former site of biological warfare research before being shut down by President Richard Nixon and is located in the City of Frederick, one of the fastest growing cities in the state.

Frederick County Chapter NAACP Questions County Sheriff Use of Tasers

Guy Djoken

The Frederick County, Maryland Chapter NAACP issued the following Press Release on 11-19-2007:

Frederick MD: TASER-Related Death In Frederick

NAACP Strongly Condemns the Frederick County Sheriff use of TASERS

On October 8th, 2007 Mr. Dereck Holland, an 18 year old Tuscarora High School student,
was tased by Cpl. Jody Maybush of the Frederick County Sheriff Deputy on school grounds. During an interview with the Frederick News-Post, published on Sunday November 18th, Mr. Patrick J. McAndrew an attorney who represents the Fraternal Order of Police, spoke with Cpl. Maybush about the confrontation and called Maybush's actions "heroic." The NAACP finds the use of this weapon, in this case, unwarranted and Mr. McAndrew's statement, at the least, very troubling. We demand a clarification from Mr. Patrick J. McAndrew.

In the early morning of Sunday November 18th, another deputy of the Frederick County Sheriff used the taser weapon on Jarrel Gray, another young black man. The man was taken to Frederick Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead. We are calling on the U.S Justice Department and Mr. Carl Snowden, Director of the Civil Rights Division of the office of the Maryland Attorney General, to launch an independent investigation into this serious matter.

It seems as if officers from the Frederick County Sheriff's office are using this weapon routinely rather than as a weapon of last resort as stated in national policy manuals. We are demanding that the Frederick County Board of Education and the Superintendent of Frederick County Public Schools develop a clear policy that instructs when officers in schools should be allowed to use force of this type.

In the mean time, we are calling for the Sheriff's office to suspend the use of this deadly weapon until a clear and definitive answer to the following questions/issues have been addressed:

-How long has the Sheriff's office been using tasers?
-How many times have they been used?
-What are the ages; gender and race of the victims when tasers have been used on?
-What have the studies said about the risks of the use of tasers?
-What did the Sheriff's department do to control suspects before they had Tasers?
-Why are there little or no problems/ complaints with the use of tasers by other agencies in the region?
-Is it a training problem or profiling?

A Press Conference on the Issue is scheduled for:

Date: Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Venue: C Burr Artz Public Library Community Room 110 E. Patrick St. Frederick,Md. 21701
Time: 5:00 PM to 5:45 PM

Monday, November 19, 2007

Gov. O'Malley's Budget Deficit Plan Approved

For some Maryland legislators, it was a long three weeks and for others the special session of the General Assembly did not last long enough. In the end, after some tinkering and skirmishes between the House and Senate, the plan to mitigate the State's 1.7 billion budget deficit submitted by Governor Martin O'Malley was approved.

Approximately 1.3 billion in tax revenue was added along with a suggested cut of 550 million in services. The cut of 550 million in services is suggested due to the fact the Governor will submit his Budget for the next fiscal year during the regular session of the General Assembly.

A few quick observations is the Governor's proposed change in the tax structure to increase the top earners (over $500,000) rate to 6.5% was passed at 5.5%. The main source of new revenue was achieved by increasing the sales tax by one cent on the dollar. However the inclusion of new services proposed by the Governor to be covered by the sales tax was changed from property management, health clubs to computer services. It does not appear that the three cent reduction in property tax proposed by the Governor survived final passage.

The new "green fund" was funded at about 50 million per year from taxes to car rentals. This is a fund to help clean the Chesapeake Bay by mitigating storm-water and agricultural run-off issues.

The approval of a Slots (video lottery terminals) Referendum was approved by the minimum number of votes needed in the House and will be placed on the November 2008 Ballot in Maryland for voters to decide. This consensus was reached after the Senate President Thomas "Mike" Miller forced the House to approve the Slots enabling legislation by refusing to have the Senate take up final consideration of any of the legislation the House had sent to the Senate.

Maryland Republican representatives will rail against the increase in taxes and the method approved for approval of Slots - preferring an auction method to generate revenues now for the state. While Democrats will tout consensus building, the modernization of the tax structure to make it more fair to the working family, showing concern toward environment and transportation issues, and letting the people decide on Slots in Maryland.

Time will be the judge as to the success of the actions of the Maryland legislators in this special session. Allowing the state of Maryland to reach this financial position was the result of actions taken by representatives on both sides of the aisle. Let's hope that in the future Maryland's elected representatives are wiser when it comes to managing the budget.

Our Poll this week is "What Issue is most important in the 2008 Election"?

Remember to cast your vote - the Poll closes at 11 pm on Sunday. Each week we will have a different Poll.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

March on Justice Department Rewarding

Guy Djoken

On Friday, the Frederick County Chapter of the NAACP and the Western Maryland delegation joined in "The March Against "Hate Crimes".

Over 100 busloads of people showed up at the Justice Department in Washington to demand federal intervention in the number of Hate crimes that have been spreading over the country since Jena Six case and stepped-up enforcement. Members of the Frederick, Washington and Carroll NAACP chapters took part in the demonstration. Speakers of the event included Reverend Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III.

Once in Washington, our delegation melted in the sea of protesters coming from all over the country. I was personally confronted by a lady demanding that the NAACP to do more to "Save and protect us from the Jim Crows of the 21 Century". After listening carefully and patiently to her grievances, I told her that together, we shall overcome. The rest of the day went smoothly as we marched over to the Justice Department.

Several protesters had banners congratulating new Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey on his new job and demanding that he step up and do the right thing. For many of us, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey proved to be far much better that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, when word got out on the following statement he issued - Click on link to read in full:

Among other priorities, we demand that the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, which has enforced the nation's anti-discrimination laws for nearly half a century, be rehabilitated and staff with fair, balanced, reputable and experienced lawyers that were turn away. The legacy of Mr. Gonzales will be forever linked to the ousting of the dozens of veteran lawyers who had to leave under his watch and the damage to morale he caused for many of those who remain in the Department.

Our group got back in Frederick around 5pm, proud for being a part of this great demonstration and happy to know that in his statement, Mr. Mukasey stated that "The Justice Department shares with those who demonstrate today their objective of bringing to justice those who commit criminal acts of hate; it shares their vision of eradicating hate in our society."

We wish Mr. Mukasey good luck on his new job and hope that his actions in the next few months will keep us from marching again in DC anytime soon.

2 AM House Vote Clears Way for Slots Referendum in Md.

The Baltimore Sun reported today that the House vote on the enabling legislation for Slots in Maryland passed with 71 votes, the bare minimum needed for approval. This clears the way for the approval for the Slots Referendum to be placed on the 2008 ballot in Maryland.

To read the complete story, click here:,0,1064811.story?page=1&coll=bal_entertainment_movies_xpromo

Maryland state Senate President Thomas "Mike" Miller had held up final consideration by the Senate on the rest of the legislation in this Special Session of the General Assembly until the House voted on the Slots companion bill.

Look for things to move swiftly today to approve the budget deficit reduction legislation after Maryland representatives return to work this afternoon. The main areas left for reconciliation between the House and the Senate are the creation of income brackets and the per cent of tax attached to each bracket. Also the tax rate and combined reporting for businesses will need to be reconciled.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

MD House Committee Moves Slots Companion Bill to Floor for Vote

Maryland State Senate President Thomas "Mike" Miller reportedly said he would not take up the Slots referendum bill sent over by the House until the companion bill which provides the enabling legislation for Slots is heard by the State House of Representatives.

The Baltimore Sun just reported that the Maryland House committee reviewing the companion Bill on Slots has voted it out of committee with a 14-5 vote and a full House vote is expected later this afternoon.

This Bill is not a constitutional amendment and will only require a majority vote (71 of 141) Delegates in the House to pass. If the House approves and sends to the Senate, the reconciliation of the two companion Bills will most likely follow leading to final passage of the Slots referendum.

For the complete Baltimore Sun story click here:,0,3076973.story?coll=bal_tab01_layout

Md. General Assembly should take up Slots in January

In the late afternoon yesterday, the Maryland House of Delegates barely approved a constitutional amendment allowing the approval of Slots (video lottery terminals) to go to Referendum and be placed on the Ballot for the November 2008 elections.

The 86-52 vote was one vote over the required 85 votes (60%) needed for passage of a constitutional amendment. After several days of debate and suggested changes to the five proposed locations across the state, the House passed Governor Martin O'Malley's proposed legislation with one amendment.

The amendment spelled out these locations in the legislation would not supersede local zoning regulations. This was a result of heavy lobbying by local officials who oppose slots in their jurisdictions.

As a result of the House amendment, it will have to go back to the Maryland Senate for final approval. This makes it very interesting for Senate President Thomas "Mike" Miller has already expressed displeasure over the fact the House failed to vote on the companion Slots Bill which is the Bill that spells out how Slots would be implemented. He correctly pointed out that without passage of the companion Bill, the State has nothing.

The Md. House passage of the Referendum for Slots came after intense lobbying by the Governor and his staff to salvage his proposed Slots legislation. But unless the Md. Senate agrees with the amendment pertaining to local zoning, the Governor will not have his legislation approved.

Senate President Miller was correct when it was reported he said, prior to the Special Session being called by the Governor, that the elected representatives should do what they were elected to do - make decisions and not have the vote go to a referendum.

Although the Md. Senate President is a walking billboard providing support for those who believe in term limits, Miller was right in this case. There is just too much to try to determine and legislate to put this issue on a Ballot for vote. It will be impossible for all the legislation to be spelled out on a Ballot in a manner the voter will understand.

In addition, the Governor has said the Slots debate in Maryland has lasted longer than the Civil War. Well, if this referendum is passed into law, the battle for and against Slots in Maryland will intensify and last another year. Both sides of the issue will lobby hard and spend millions to try to convince voters to vote their way. What will they be voting for if the enabling legislation is not passed by the House prior to the Referendum?

All of this effort put forth in this Special Session of the General Assembly and the revenues from the approval of Slots will not help the State's coffers until 2009. It makes much more sense to craft this legislation during the regular session of the Md. General Assembly and if Slots are approved, have the revenues benefit the State now.

The General Assembly in this special session should concentrate on the passage and final approval of the spending cuts and tax adjustments proposed by Governor O'Malley that will mitigate the 1.7 billion budget deficit.

Then take up the approval of Slots during the regular session starting in January when there is time to provide for public input and thoroughly discuss the many complex components of the implementation of Slots. Finally, Maryland representatives should do what they are elected to do, vote yes or no on Slots during the regular session.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Top Three Dems Battle while 2nd Tier Candidates Move Up

Now the spin begins on how the Presidential candidates performed in the fifth of six Democratic National Committee sanctioned Debates. It is important for the candidates to do well during the debate but even more critical is how their campaign staff works the media following the debate.

While many voters tune in and watch the televised Debates, even more will be reached when they read their newspaper with their morning coffee or watch the evening news. So campaign staff who are aware of this, immediately following a Debate - run to Reporters with their take, providing themes, one-liners, and more.

Reporters of course understand what these campaign staffers are up to and while they listen to staff positions, Reporters offer their own analysis of what they saw and heard.

Here is my quick take on last night's Debate:

First, In the first half of the Debate CNN used Wolf Blitzer, at his discretion, instead of a timer to monitor the announced time candidates were given to answer questions. This led to constant interruption by Mr. Blitzer of the responses by the candidates and became very annoying to this viewer.

In the second half of the debate when undecided voters were given the opportunity to ask questions of the candidates, CNN panelists or Mr. Blitzer as Moderator would often add on their own question. This should not have occurred if the intent was to receive an answer to a question offered up from an undecided voter.

However, the CNN debate format probably gave the second tier candidates the most exposure they have received in a Debate to date.

Now on to the Candidates:

Senator Hillary Clinton (NY) - I had written earlier that she had the most to lose and she held her own, however she offered no flashes of inspiration. Her best line: "they are not attacking me because I am a woman, they are attacking me because I'm ahead". Her opening comment about coming prepared by wearing an asbestos pant suit may receive some press but received a flat response at the debate. Other than a brief early exchange with Obama on the differences in their Health Care initiatives, she offered little of substance on any of the issues. Her campaign staff is already touting Hillary's back! - but I saw it as an average and flat performance.

Senator Barack Obama (Illinois) - Stumbled at the get-go on his answer to the now well known question as to whether illegal immigrants should be issued a Driver's License - His answer was similar to the wishy washy answer provided by Clinton in the preceding Debate. However, he recovered well and toned down his attack on Clinton. In the area of foreign policy he did point out that he differed with Clinton on negotiating with foreign leaders who are not our allies. I also saw this as a average performance, perhaps because I had recently watched his speech at the Iowa J/J Dinner which was inspiring.

Former Senator John Edwards (NC) - I had also said earlier he had a lot to lose along with Clinton in this Debate and out of the top three he probably did lose based on his performance. His attempts early in the Debate to contrast his differences with Clinton on her Iran vote and her statements on lifting the cap on social security fell flat, especially when he compared her votes to the Bush/Cheney administration - this lead to the "slinging of mud" phrase to be used later by Clinton. This was a below average performance by Edwards.

Governor Bill Richardson (NM) - on his birthday delivered his best performance to date - he answered the driver license to illegal immigrants with a clear yes, spoke against the effectiveness of building a wall across the US boundary with Mexico, and spoke of the importance of diplomacy with the Mexican government. As a Governor of a Border state and also being a Hispanic, it was refreshing to hear clear answers in regard to immigration issues. Also did well with answers on education and foreign policy. He will receive some hits from his opposition on his answer of putting human rights before national security but his answer was misunderstood. This was in regard to the current volatile situation in Pakistan where the Bush administration policy has been to ally the US with a Dictator in Pakistan against the war on terror. Richardson's point was the overwhelming majority of the voters in Pakistan are moderates and the US should be supporting free and open elections for he felt it was extremely doubtful that Islamic extremists would ever be elected in a free election in Pakistan. He believed that by backing human rights and a free election in Pakistan, the security of the US would then be strengthened.

Senator Joe Biden (Del.) - clearly came across as the most relaxed and loose candidate on the stage - probably due to the fact he realizes he is so far down in the Polls he has nothing to lose. He made good points on both domestic and foreign policy. He also showed his experience and knowledge of how government works. This was his best performance but he has a long way to go to catch the front-runners.

Senator Chris Dodd (Conn.) - also did very well, especially when he got on the subject of education. He called the "No Child left Behind" program a disaster and spelled out why education would be a priority in his administration. His best performance but he is also very far behind.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) - continued the good performances of the second tier candidates with his best debate performance. Made clear points in regard to not calling people illegal immigrants but instead undocumented workers. He stated the US should develop a clear path to citizenship and felt that NAFTA should be canceled. When he spoke of the need to bring the troops home today from Iraq he received applause from the audience.

It is always good for the voters to be able to watch the candidates live in a debate. After what has seemed to have been an early and extremely long campaign, there is now only about seven weeks before the voters begin to cast their votes.

The results from the Iowa caucuses loom large for these candidates due to the front loaded Democratic primary schedule. The caucus method of voting in Iowa is different and is challenging for the candidates to get a handle on. So although the top three candidates are in a statistical dead heat in Iowa, anything is still possible.

Our Throw-away Society

Connie Castanera

One of the headlines on the front page of the Frederick News Post, on November 15th, read "WILL YOU RECYCLE THIS PAPER?" While the article was intended to focus on the things we throw away, for me it brought to mind the concerns I have about how easily we throw away people, parents in particular.

A new job, college, or a new love interest can take us far away from the people that raised us, our parents. In most cases, these are the people in our world who care most about our health, happiness, and well-being. They are the ones that have dedicated a sizable chunk of their lives tending to our every need, and too often our every whim. Our success, health and happiness are at the top on their list of lofty goals they envision for us.

How do we repay them once we are grown? Many of us are loving, dedicated sons and daughters; however, others are too quick to cast aside the very people that love us unconditionally. Many describe their parents as useless and out of touch. They view their parents as old people that are simply clueless in today's world.

When parents try their best to guide their grown children in a direction that steers them away from potentially risky endeavors, they are accused of meddling in their children's lives. While it may be true that parents can no longer, and should not try to, run their grown children's lives; it does not justify throwing away people that are acting out of love and concern.

Parents invest a great deal of love, time, hard work, dedication, sacrifice and hard earned money into their children. When you invest that much, it's very difficult to step back and "let go." Sometimes a simple, "Thank you for sharing your point of view, I will consider your advice, Mom/Dad," is enough to make parents feel valued. We, as adults, need to run our own lives, but we can be kinder to our parents in doing so.

Our parents need to feel that they are still important in our lives. I feel that we owe it to them, after all that they have given to us. We are all very busy with our lives, but I feel that it is important to make time for keeping in touch with our folks. If we are parents, we are teaching our children how to treat parents.

This reminds me of a song that became popular in the mid 1970s, by Harry Chapin, called "Cat's in the Cradle." If you are too young to be familiar with the song, I'm certain that you can search the Internet to find the lyrics. I recommend it.

We will one day be either valued or thrown away.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"March For Justice"

The following is a reminder of the peaceful March tomorrow, on the Justice Department. This March is to bring attention and a call for action to correct the injustices that still occur today. Guy Djoken who is an author on this site wrote a Column about this dated November 3, 2007. The Column is entitled "NAACP Plans March on Justice Department" and can be read in full by clicking on the Title under archived columns for November in the lower right hand margin of this site.

Dear Freedom Fighters,

I look forward to meeting you all Friday during our trip to the march. Please note that we will be leaving as follow


Bus #1 will stop at the following locations


Next to LongHorn Steakhouse

Prime Outlets Mall

495 Prime Outlets Blvd

Hagerstown, MD 21740


In front of Sears

Francis Scott Key Mall
at I-270 and Route 85 in
Frederick, Maryland

5500 Buckeystown Pike Frederick, MD 21703

Please download the waiver

to be signed before boarding the Bus. We will have extra copies handy on Friday for those who were not able to have it ready. It is imperative that we have it for everyone traveling with us.

We will also collect the fees for non-members at the station. Please bring your membership with you and some food and drinks. For additional information, please visit or call me at 240-498-3557


Guy Djoken - Western Maryland Coordinator

Nevada Democratic Presidential Primary Debate Tonight

CNN and the Nevada Democratic Party will be hosting this Debate held at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. This two hour debate will start at 8 pm EST and televised by CNN. Wolf Blitzer will moderate the debate and the panel members who will be asking questions will be Campbell Brown, Suzanne Malveaux, and John Robert.

This is the fifth of six Democratic Presidential primary debates sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee. With such a front loaded Democratic primary schedule, the performance of the candidates in these debates and a victory or top three showing in Iowa is very important.

The latest CNN poll had Senator Hillary Clinton (NY), Senator Barack Obama (Illinois), and former Senator John Edwards (NC) in a statistical dead heat in Iowa at 25%, 23% and 22%.

Will the panel members and Wolf Blitzer continue to focus questions on recent miscues by front runner Senator Hillary Clinton (NY)? She has certainly given the questioners more subject matter after her campaign admitted to the "planting of questions" at events in Iowa and then adding insult to injury, failing to leave a tip after a meal at an Iowa Diner.

Also look for a question concerning her waffling on a question asked by Tim Russert at the end of the last debate on whether she supported the Governor of New York's proposal to issue Driver Licenses to illegal immigrants. It is now being reported that New York Governor Eliot Spitzer (D) may drop this proposal. She will also be asked about making policy decisions based on poll results.

She has the most to lose in this debate - if the above issues stick to her and if she does not rebound in a strong manner from her performance in the last debate, look for her to begin to slide in the Polls.

Senator Barack Obama, after a tremendous speech at the Iowa J/J Dinner has energized his supporters so look to see him receive more pointed questions pertaining to his experience to be President. It will also be interesting to see how forceful he contrasts his positions on the issues with Sen. Clinton.

If he follows up on his recent electrifying speech with a solid performance look for him to gain in the Polls and more importantly, gain in the hearts of Iowa voters.

Former Senator John Edwards also has a lot to lose. He was leading in Iowa and seems to be struggling to get attention, yet his message of "those who have and those who don't" is very true today. Battling for the less fortunate and expressing concern with the corporate lobbyists in Washington is appealing and the right thing to do - pay attention to his answers and see how he continues to draw distinctions between himself and Clinton - if it is an attack style, it could work against him.

Governor Bill Richardson (NM) has been unable to break out of the single digits in the national polls and his defense of Clinton during the last debate has many political pundits believing he is now running for Vice-President. With his international relations experience and being the only Governor as a candidate for President, he may be the most qualified candidate in the race. But for him to stay in the race after Iowa, he needs two things to happen - finish third or above in Iowa and start raising serious money.

Senators Joe Biden (Del.), and Chris Dodd (Conn), along with Congressman Dennis Kucinich(Ohio) understand the political process in Washington very well and have served with distinction but none is currently registering with the voters in the national polls. Although Congressman Kucinich did win the recent online Democracy for America poll with 33% of the 150,000 votes cast. They will need to have outstanding performances. Also look to see if they take shots at any of the front runners and if so - will the shots be directed at a particular candidate.

Tune in, watch and remember that in spite of poll results, the numbers that count are when the people vote and the votes are counted. So until then, every Democratic Presidential candidate has a chance to be the nominee of the Party and become the next President of the United States.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Fired Walter Reed General to Head Ft. Detrick

The Baltimore Sun in an update yesterday:,0,567945.story , reported that Major General George W. Weightman will be the new commander of Fort Detrick and the U.S. Army Medical Research & Material Compound located in Frederick, Maryland.

This is the same General who was fired after the poor conditions that existed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center where war veterans receive treatment and care, were made public.

He will be replacing Col. Jonathon Jaffin, a former commander at Walter Reed Hospital who replaced Major General Erin Schoomaker at Fort Detrick. Schoomaker was named the replacement for Weightman at Walter Reed -see Frederick News Post story dated March 20, 2007:

The Fort Detrick Compound is undergoing major renovation and expansion some of which is to facilitate biological weapons defense research.

Some residents of the City of Frederick along with Frederick County Commissioner David Gray have questioned as to whether the Government conducted sufficient studies pertaining to where a biological weapons defense research center should be located. Ft. Detrick is located within the City of Frederick, one of the fastest growing communities in the state of Maryland. See Frederick News Post Opinion dated November 12, 2007:

Benazir Bhutto's Niece Questions the Motives of her Aunt

Click on the Link below to read:,0,2482408.story?coll=la-opinion-center

Our Poll this week is "Who has your vote for President"

Remember to cast your vote - the Poll closes at 11 pm on Sunday. Each week we will have a different Poll.

Obama Speech at Iowa J/J Dinner

In case you missed it and regardless of who you support for President this is a great speech. Click on the link to listen.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bhutto Detained Again

When Benazir Bhutto announced she was going to lead a group of protesters on a 185 mile march across Pakistan beginning today, she was placed under house arrest again yesterday by President Musharraf as reported by the AP.

President George W. Bush and the U.S. Congress can not continue to ignore these acts by a man desperate to maintain his control of power within Pakistan. These actions by Musharraf can only result in more unrest leading to the possibility of Islamic militants mounting serious attacks against the government involving suicide bombers, etc.

Today, it is widely reported that Bhutto is now calling for President Musharraf to step down. This statement by Bhutto effectively ends any previous intension she may have had to arrange a power sharing situation with him if she had been elected as Prime Minister in the January parliamentary election.

The front page story in today's "Musharraf's Army Losing Ground in Insurgent Areas" shows how difficult a position the President of Pakistan is in at the moment as he battles opposition coming from many directions.

If Musharraf loses the support of the high ranking officers within the military, his days as President will come swiftly to an end. An agreement would most likely be reached among opposition leaders and the military for an interim government until national elections could be held.

Bhutto has stated she still intends to go on the march across Pakistan, call for the reinstitution of the constitution and the reinstatement of the Supreme Court Justices.

It is important for the people of Pakistan and the security of the region that the leadership of their country be resolved in a peaceful and constitutional manner.

At this point the only hope Musharraf has for political survival, and it is a slim hope, would be to reinstate the Supreme Court Justices immediately and agree to accept their decision as to the legality of his recent reelection as President. Then in addition to stepping down from his position as General of the Army and holding Parliamentary elections in January he should also agree to hold another election for President.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lessons From Virginia

Guy Djoken

Last week, AP reported that Republican U.S. Senator John Warner says the GOP's loss of the state senate in Virginia was due in part to the narrow direction the party has taken in recent years.

That direction is something that has been troubling for many of us who have been wondering about the openness of the GOP to embrace minorities and work closely with them. As we ponder about the lessons to be learned from Virginia's elections held last Tuesday, it is worth noting that many of the Republican leaders running who made immigration a centerpiece of the fall campaign lost, despite the Washington Post poll in early October showing that 53 percent of Virginians wanted state and local governments to do "a lot" to deal with illegal immigration.

Some may see this as a contradiction but I don't. I think the people are often smarter that what those running for election sometimes give them credit for. Most are able to distinguish between those who are sincere about addressing a real issue that very few disagree on and the opportunistic demagogues attempting to use the illegal immigration issue to try to win votes.

Talking about those, Sen. Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) upcoming leader of the Virginia Senate told the Washington Post "…his chamber would not tolerate the same kind of "grandstanding."

I hope politicians all over the country from both parties take the lessons from Virginia to heart and refrain from using the immigration issue as wedge to divide our communities in their quest to get to and/or stay in power.

Our sincere call for moderation on the issue is very well framed in the excerpts below from a Police Chiefs Guide to Immigration Issues dated 8-3-2007. The full document may be accessed at the International Association of Chiefs of Police web site:

II. Historical Perspective


It is important that police become familiar with and competent in responding to their growing international populations. However, that familiarity requires additional educational and training efforts that translate into significant commitments of time and resources—scarce commodities, especially for smaller police organizations.

Immigrant communities present a challenge to the police, because while the largest proportion of the immigrant population has legal status in the United States, a smaller portion are illegal/undocumented entrants into the country. Police agencies and their officers are faced with a primary dilemma—how much focus to place on the smaller, illegal component of the immigrant community vs. the larger, legal one.

Looking at immigration, particularly illegal immigrants, from the perspective of crime and victimization causes yet another set of problems for the police—when crime occurs, the legal status of the perpetrator or the victim may become a critical concern. Research has shown that immigrants are more likely to be victimized than other members of the general population. In particular, illegal immigrants are often afraid to report crime to local authorities, making them easy targets for those with criminal intentions.

Questions the police may face include:

Should the police even inquire as to immigration status when dealing with a victim of a violent crime?

If the victim is an illegal immigrant, should ICE be contacted?

Is the offender a legal or illegal immigrant?

What steps should be taken with an illegal immigrant offender?

When and how should ICE be involved?

Will ICE have the capacity to respond?

One example of how difficult these issues become is in the area of human trafficking. When police determine that a trafficking situation exists, the victims of these crimes are likely to be illegal. Police must be extremely well trained in such complicated crimes in order to avoid responses that will re-victimize the victims and decrease their willingness to serve as witnesses to build strong cases against the traffickers.

The above text is only one section of what is an extensive guide for law enforcement and shows the complexity of the illegal immigration (undocumented worker) issues. It is important for the law enforcement community to continue to receive education and training in this area.

There is a considerable segment of the population that is living in fear of being targeted. An article by Ernesto LondoƱo and Theresa Vargas in the Washington Post on Friday, October 26, 2007; Page A01 titled "Robbers Stalk Hispanic Immigrants, Seeing Ideal Prey" clearly sustains that fear.

Data from the census and other sources also shows that for every ethnic group without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants, even those who are the least educated. This is also true for the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans who make up the bulk of the undocumented population.

The problem of crime in the United States is not "caused" or even aggravated by immigrants as it is often claimed. We ask that our Sheriff's office engage the different cultural groups within Frederick County and work closely with them to build the needed relationship that may eventually lead to mutual trust and understanding.

This effort, in time will give the Sheriff's office an edge in fighting crime with the support of the general population.