Pubdate: Fri, 21 Jan 2011
Source: Dispatch, The (MD)
Copyright: 2011 The Maryland Coast Dispatch, Inc.
Author: Robert Merkin



I spent many of the happiest summers of my life in Ocean City. As a 
bystander, I know Ocean City's police officers well, and have 
observed their responses to scores of "breach of the peace" incidents.

Ocean City Police Chief Bernadette DiPino's strident opposition to 
any degree of decriminalization or legalization of marijuana ("Police 
Chief rails against pot legalization," in your Jan. 14 issue) should 
certainly be considered when Ocean City decides what to do about 
proposed local and state changes to medical and recreational marijuana laws.

But Chief DiPino is just one voice. The Police Department employs 
nearly 100 officers, and each officer has his or her years of 
experiences and conclusions.

As Ocean City considers future changes in marijuana laws and 
policies, each Ocean City police officer should be asked this 
question: "When I respond to a public or domestic disturbance 
involving intoxication, which substance typically leads to the safest 
resolution? Which substance typically leads to the most dangerous and 
violent resolution? Which substance do I and my fellow officers fear 
more? On Ocean City's sidewalks and boardwalk, in Ocean City's 
apartments, and in police incidents throughout Maryland and the 
nation, which substance is involved in more assaults on officers and 
deaths of officers: legal alcohol or illegal marijuana?"

It may surprise Ocean City's voters and elected officials that Chief 
DiPino has one opinion about marijuana, and scores of her officers, 
who risk their lives during every shift, have a very different opinion.

Robert Merkin

Chesterfield, Mass.
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