Judging the police

Regarding your Feb. 28 editorial "Police in the docket": Without a doubt those four policemen involved in the murder of Amadou Diallo overreacted, and no one is safe if they cannot control their fears.

They should be relieved of their badges, as they are too nervous and frightened to be walking their beats. Perhaps it is time that we go back to neighborhood patrol officers. There should be a least two, and possibly more, working in the same neighborhood at all times getting to know the people who live there. It might have prevented this awful tragedy.

Caroline R. O'Handley St. Vincent, West Indies

Your Feb. 28 editorial correctly prescribes better overall training and increased sensitivity training in order to improve relations between minorities and police departments. However, your editorial unfairly describes Amadou Diallo as "acting suspiciously."

I would have thought that the Monitor would maintain its traditional objectivity and not accept as truth the defense brought by the officers that an unarmed black man, in front of his own home, not engaged in an unlawful act, could represent a danger to four trained police officers carrying firearms.

Jack Crosby St. Louis

Russia's nuclear safety standards

Regarding "Russia's floating nuke plants: cheap now, costly later?" (Feb. 17): The concept of floating nuclear power plants was extensively explored in the US some 20 to 30 years ago. There are distinct economic and safety advantages to be gained by manufacture at a single factory site. Nonetheless, there are legitimate concerns about the standards to which Russian nuclear plants are built and operated, some of which are correctly identified in your article.

However, Pacific Rim nations, in particular, are experiencing rapid increases in electricity demand driven by their strongly growing economies. Much of that demand is currently being met with very costly oil, driving up the world price, or by polluting coal. The ability to move large nuclear units from a centralized manufacturing facility to where they are needed has great potential for meeting these demands. And there are no fundamental reasons the safety and environmental integrity of these plants would be compromised if they were transportable.

Present circumstances dictate that Russia is not the best entity to make floating nuclear plants a reality. Instead, Russia needs to put its resources into improving the safety and efficiency of its existing plants and in better pay and training for the operating staffs. It will have to wait for another day when we may again see sincere efforts to float nuclear plants to those in need of electricity to power improvements in their lives.

Robert Long Albuquerque, N.M. Nuclear Stewardship, LLC

Regarding your article on Russia's floating nuke plants I found the following assertion very interesting: "Russian authorities insist that nuclear technology has improved since the 1986 accident at Chernobyl, Ukraine, when an exploded reactor killed thousands of people."

"Thousands" seemed a vast exaggeration to me, so I did a little research. The most succinct source of information I could find from a reputable Web site was at the following URL: www.cna.ca/cher2.html.

In short, the number of immediate deaths due to the accident is 31. The entry page has some interesting information concerning numerous claims of "thousands of deaths" due to Chernobyl.

William J. Wilson Baton Rouge, La. RBS Reactor Engineering

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Due to the volume of mail, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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