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Longer-term solutions needed for police

Anti-police protesters occupying City Hall Park in Manhattan

Anti-police protesters occupying City Hall Park in Manhattan on Thursday, June 25, 2020, are demanding defunding of the New York City Police Department. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Longer-term solutions needed for police

As a retired New York State Trooper with 28 years of service, I understand the need to have the full faith, trust and confidence of the public we serve. Transparency and communication with the public are key parts of the solution. “Defund the police” is not the answer. It’s an emotional reaction to a problem that requires real leadership to enact long-term solutions. Instead, it will further divide us, disproportionately affecting the middle class and those living in poverty. Public safety should not become a luxury for the wealthy with the means to pay for it.

The issues of gang and domestic violence, drug and human trafficking, illegal firearms, murder, and more, do not disappear when police budgets are indiscriminately cut. The largest police expense is personnel. Defunding would cause personnel cuts to be implemented throughout the police force, resulting in fewer police officers, supervisors and investigators to solve and prevent crimes. Longer-term solutions need to be discussed in areas of recruitment and candidate screening, including social media, psychological exams and use of polygraph machines, to ensure only the most qualified are hired. Once hired, in-service training must be performed.

Michael Siderakis, Nesconset

Giving correctness a failing grade

Why can’t Halle Berry play the role of a transgender person in a movie ? Isn’t that what actors do — pretend to be someone they’re not? And they win awards when they pretend really well. Patty Duke won an Academy Award for playing deaf, blind and mute Helen Keller in “The Miracle Worker.” Dustin Hoffman played a man pretending to be a woman in “Tootsie,” an emotionally challenged person in “Rainman,” and a Caucasian pretending to be a Native American in “Little Big Man.” More recently, Jared Leto won an Academy Award for playing a transgender woman in “Dallas Buyers Club.” Robert Downey Jr. played a Caucasian actor playing an African-American with blackface in “Tropic Thunder,” and in that same movie Nick Nolte played a war veteran pretending to be a double amputee. The list is endless. I realize we live in an evolving world, and we all should be trying to live more consciously, but where does all this supposed correctness end? Soon, there will be no more comedy or drama movies — actors will only be allowed to play themselves, and we will call them autobiographies.

David Rogers, Fort Salonga

Police, like everyone, should wear masks

Setting an example is challenging. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone described the Fire Island crowd’s flaunting of mask and distancing rules as “disturbing and unacceptable.” Yet several members of the Suffolk County Police Department were pictured standing shoulder to shoulder, without masks, celebrating the retirement of officer Patricia Torres. The new rules are ones we should all follow, regardless of the type of celebration.

Fred Drewes, Mount Sinai

Without enforcement, no reason for laws

I continue to see and also feel a sense of eroding moral conscience as to law and order. Headlines talk of noncompliance with the wearing of masks, illegal fireworks, and social distancing [“It all begins with a new law on face masks,” Letters, July 7]. Many politicians express deep concern for these laws and regulations, yet little is said about other laws that are broken. Riots, arson, assault and shootings. I have yet to see follow-ups on apprehension and punishment for the more serious violations. So do I get to choose which laws I want to comply with? Is not wearing a mask more serious than burning down a business? Will I be released from custody free to decide again what I will comply with? We either have laws and enforcement or it’s what people themselves decide to obey.

Mike Daddura, Montauk

Slave owners also had good attributes

In the past, owning a person in America wasn’t considered bad by many. Some who built fortunes off slavery also built our country. Both need to be acknowledged and accepted. If we remove everything, we are effectively whitewashing history. Instead of changing names and removing statues, we need to add information about the lives of our leaders and their slaves [“Retiring old ideas, making changes,” Letters, June 22].

Visitors to the William Floyd estate are informed he owned slaves. He also took great personal risk by signing the Declaration of Independence. Displays should be added around the property informing visitors of the role slaves played in Floyd’s life and the building of America.

Recently, I heard Chirlane McCray, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife, talk about possibly changing the name of Gracie Mansion because Archibald Gracie owned two slaves. That would be a mistake. Gracie didn’t profit from slavery. He manumitted them in 1801. The name “Gracie Mansion” is descriptive, not celebratory.

We should remove Confederate leaders. One should remain with context, Robert E. Lee, who was known for never receiving a demerit — the perfect cadet, an honorable gentleman by most accounts. It’s an important lesson that perfect, honorable gentlemen make bad choices. Use a scalpel, not a sledgehammer.

Michele Brass, Bethpage

A reader wrote how Robert Moses constructed highway structures so buses could not get to the beaches from Brooklyn, therefore preventing Black and brown people from coming to Long Island [“Reconsidering controversial statues,” Letters, June 28]. We lived in Brooklyn and came to Long Island on the railroad, took a bus on the South Shore and went to the beach. We are Italian Americans. The parkways were built for no commercial traffic, and that meant no buses, trucks, etc. Parkways were better this way. So let’s not blame Moses for that. History is something of the past. We learn from it to, hopefully, make life better. We cannot destroy every part of our history.

Camille Morselli, Islip Terrace

Trump’s open schools request is transparent

So President Donald Trump wants schools to open as usual in September [“Trump: Open schools,” News, July 8].

His transparent motive: two months of economic growth and normalcy to our routine, fresh in time for Election Day. To me, the subsequent deaths after the election would not matter to him as they haven’t the past six months, evidenced by his refusal to recognize science, data, advice from medical professionals, and a proven strategy.

I believe his treatment of the pandemic has shown an absence of leadership and denial of simple mathematics. Governors who took their cues from Trump are now responsible for rising infection rates in more than three dozen states. All those states had to do was to follow New York’s template. Maybe the only thing worse than poor leadership is no leadership.

Robert Gerver, Kings Park

I’ve seen Matt Davies’ disdain for President Donald Trump on display on Newsday’s editorial pages for years. I found Davies’ depiction of Trump’s reelection platform showing the president standing atop a coffin with a “Reopen Schools” banner as distasteful [Editorial Cartoon, July 9].

To me, Davies cheapens the efforts of government, health and school officials, teachers, parents and others trying to safely accomplish this reopening goal. I believe Newsday should be ashamed to publish this politically biased view and also believe it inflames an already fragile community.

Glenn Tyranski, Huntington

Since our president has decided it’s safe enough for our children to go back to school, is it safe enough for Paul Manafort to go back to jail?

Gerard Byrne, Northport