Pubdate: Sun, 28 Jul 2002
Source: Montgomery Advertiser (AL)
Copyright: 2002 The Advertiser Co.
Author: John Leofsky


Chills run down my spine from reading news of Operation Clean-up and the 
use of unprecedented police force.

Our police are now using large black vehicles and virtually invisible dark 
uniforms. This does not make me feel safer. If someone wearing black is 
moving around my neighborhood, my first thought won't be that these are 
respectable officers of the court and they are coming to protect me.

Perhaps I should just count my blessings and look the other way. After all, 
they probably won't be used in Winton Blount's backyard near Woodmere, just 
in the "townships" of the west side of the city.

The dark emphasis didn't trouble me as much as the fact that the police 
operation was conducted at the request of a real estate developer, in fact, 
the same one who developed my neighborhood.

I don't want to have a police helicopter overhead for three hours before 
midnight. I don't want to watch as armed uniforms conduct house-to-house 
searches of my neighbors. I believe we have a crime problem. The problem is 
we ignore boardroom criminals and go after too many easy targets, such as 
marijuana users.

I wish we would spend a comparable amount of resources on white-collar 
crime. I've lost thousands of dollars and been hurt by that over recent 
months far worse than any personal crimes in my life combined. The minor 
drug violations and other petty offenses seem like a questionable prize for 
use of such massive police resources.

There is a trade-off for such protection. We are losing constitutional 
rights, sacrificing them for short-term peace of mind. What if a newly 
armed store clerk mistakes one of these policemen for a thug?

The newspaper stated this was an operation to "prevent crime before it 
occurred." Did someone in the mayor's office take the movie "Minority 
Report" a little too seriously?

I urge our elected representatives to rethink this approach.

John Leofsky

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