With regard to the Commack swastika wearers, the religious and community leaders who say that people who commit bias-related crimes don't understand the meaning of what they do are either in total denial, total ignorance or totally detached from reality ["Unity call in Commack," News, April 19].

I was in charge of Suffolk County Police Department's Anti-bias Task Force -- now the Bias Crimes Unit -- from 1980 to 1985. We arrested more than 400 people who commited crimes related to bigotry, and not a single one didn't know the significance of what he or she did or why.

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To ignore, deny or condone bigotry is an absurdity. To paraphrase Chief Anthony Bouza of the New York City Police Department, if you ignore crimes, you condone them, and if you condone them you perpetuate them.

Howard Mandell, East Northport