Police should wear cameras on drug raids

*Police should wear cameras on drug raids *Ban flushable wipes, use other alternatives *Opt-out prot
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Police should wear cameras on drug raids

The recent police shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina has renewed the conversation that police should wear body cameras. While such a policy would be quite cumbersome to implement, it would offer more accountability when the facts of interactions between the police and public are in question.

There wouldn’t be any dispute about what transpired during a police encounter. There would be fewer costly trials at great expense to the taxpayers, a certainty of justice and, most of all, it would improve the conduct of both police and the public they interact with. Most people will act on their best behavior if they know they’re being filmed.

However, one area of law enforcement that has evaded the debate of police wearing cameras is drug raids. There seems to be a presumption by the general public that any use of force during the course of executing a drug raid is justified. When law enforcement is conducting a no-knock drug raid, the likelihood that deadly force might be used increases substantially. According to The Drug Reform Coordination Network, so far in 2015, there have been 17 deaths in the enforcement of domestic U.S. drug operations, most of which have occurred during no-knock drug raids.

For years, there have been many documented cases of drug raids where law enforcement goes to the wrong address, homeowners mistaking police for criminal intruders, the homeowners’ family pets being shot dead and police applying questionable use of deadly force.

It would seem to be common sense that if law enforcement is going to engage in such a dangerous operation that body cameras should be par for the course. Yet, despite the often tragic results, there’s no outcry for use of cameras in these situations. Unfortunately, it will probably take a high-profile case of another drug-raid-gone-bad to get the public motivated to do what should be a no-brainer.

William Aiken

Schenectady

Ban flushable wipes, use other alternatives

Re April 6 Gazette, “Wipes flushable in name only”: You can bet the next plumber’s bill on that.

Anyone who would believe a wipe is flushable is dumb enough to believe a politician. That may explain the predicament America is in.

I live in a condo development in Rotterdam. A few years ago we were clogged up the Yalu. The sewer system. The cause was everything but the kitchen sink stuck down there. Old folks have the same issues as babies. All this comes at a time when we are limited to how much water a toilet tank holds. Less is not best.

It is time to ban wipes. They are not flushable. More paper will be required, which necessitates cutting down more trees. There is no happy ending to this letter. A proper diet minimizes the need for extensive cleanup after going to the bathroom. The content of grocery carts tells me the mess has only begun.

Someday, wipes will be banned. The French invented a water cleaning system attached to toilets; the spray cleans you up. Cost is about $100 and it’s easy to install. If we mass-produce them, the cost will go down. Less paper and wipes, happier sewer systems.

The end does not always justify the means.

Edmond Day

Rotterdam

Opt-out protests not just the unions’ fight

In your April 12 editorial [“Be aware of influences before opting out of tests”] about test refusals, you warn parents about being used by the teacher’s union. This movement started before the union was involved in response to the federal Race to the Top Program and the introduction of Common Core.

The refusals started in protest against flawed tests tied to flawed standards and flawed reform measures. Last year, over 60,000 students refused to take the New York state tests while the teacher’s union stayed on the sideline. These refusal numbers were very solid, considering school districts across the state went out of their way to ensure parents weren’t fully aware of their rights in regard to refusing, including sending scary letters filled with misinformation about loss of funding for schools if students refused the tests.

The union said nothing and teachers faced disciplinary action if they spoke against district policy, keeping most silent at least when in public. This year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed his reform agenda further, making tests even more critical to teacher evaluations. The union was pushed to a breaking point because the Legislature didn’t stand up for our children and instead is requiring even higher stakes for the standardized tests.

While teachers still need to be careful about stating their thoughts on the tests, we are glad to see the union finally speaking out and up on their behalf. In addition, Assemblyman Jim Tedisco has authored the Common Core Parental Refusal Act, bringing even greater attention to the issue. The refuse movement keeps growing and is a joint fight, as more parents, teachers and legislators decide we must take a stand on behalf of our students.

Will Farmer

Burnt Hills

The writer is a former school board member.

Ethics reform should be state’s top priority

I attended a meeting of the Schenectady Torch Club on April 9, where Blair Horner, legislative director of NYPIRG, was guest speaker.

He educated us about ethics issues in Albany and possible remedies, leaving me (speaking just for myself) frustrated that our elected public officials, legislative and executive, are not motivated to make meaningful progress in this area. Mr. Horner did a great job of highlighting proven and alleged criminal misdeeds by our recent elected leaders and explained how the current ethics rules contribute to these misdeeds. I came away from the meeting thinking that there is at least one more reason why people should be concerned about ethics in Albany.

To me, Albany’s ethics challenges have resulted in a state government that spends too much and does not do enough for the average New Yorker. New Yorkers have the highest tax burden of all the states in the country. Part of the reason for this distinction is that the state spends a lot of money supporting projects that enrich those who make large campaign contributions to our governor and to our legislative leaders. It’s an investment that pays off for the rich campaign donors at the expense of the rest of us. As long as this practice continues, New Yorkers have a legitimate reason to have little confidence that their government is really working for them.

So, if you are concerned about how well our government works, insist that our elected leaders address real ethics reform. This should be Job No. 1.

We are all paying dearly for how Albany works under our lax ethics culture.

Bahram Keramati

Saratoga Springs

Gazette finds balance but TV news doesn’t

Recently I gave my opinion, saying The Gazette was way too far left. Well, I have been paying more attention to the Opinion pages, and I have to say I was wrong. I am seeing an even amount of time between the liberal and conservative sides.

Now if we can get the TV news, ABC, CBS and NBC, to be fair and stop being so far left and being so pro-Obama. The American people have a right to hear the truth from both sides, not just the left’s side of things.

Keep up the good work, Gazette.

Anthony Monte

Duanesburg

Everyone should be offended by cartoon

There is not a shred of truth behind the Catalino “cartoon” in the April 12 paper. Just about everyone should be offended by such propaganda.

1) Religious people. They would simply like government to not take away their freedoms.

2) Blacks. The back-of-the-bus days discrimination is insulted by such nonsense as this.

3) Gays. Those that are honorable will not want the support of lies from any source.

Catalino cannot be so stupid as to believe there is an honest basis for such a sketch. Apparently being a man of little to no honor, he draws such garbage because he knows the politically correct media will publish it. Where did you leave your intellectual honesty last night? Good grief.

Clyde Maughan

Rotterdam

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