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<b>Redefining peeking</b>

EDITOR: Silly me, I had always thought that "peeking" meant looking inside someone's residence, not ripping a window screen and sticking an arm through the blinds ("Carrillo to be charged with peeking," Friday). I am glad the state Attorney General's Office was able to correct this mistaken assumption on my part and provide me with the proper perspective.

JOHN URBANSKI

Cotati

<b>Flawed protocol</b>

EDITOR: The tragic death of Andy Lopez brings up other sad memories.

Jeremiah Chass, a 16-year-old fatally shot by deputies when his family called for help because he was psychotic and out of control; he may have been holding a knife.

Richard DeSantis, shot unarmed as he charged several officers in a bipolar episode.

Kuan Chung Kao, shot to death as he waved a broomstick at the police outside his Rohnert Park home.

How many others?

My heart aches for the victims' families and for the officers who live with the memories of these mistakes.

What I fear in the Andy Lopez case is one more investigation of an individual officer in an individual incident that will exonerate the officer because he followed approved protocol.

Isn't it time to investigate the protocol that repeatedly gives rise to heartbreaking headlines? There is something horribly wrong in a protocol that results in shooting the innocent, the mentally ill, the unarmed and the minimally armed. Investigate the protocol.

MARY BLOM

Sebastopol

<b>A different perspective</b>

EDITOR: I suggest that the letter titled "Divisive tea party" in the Oct. 27 paper be rewritten with every "tea party" reference changed to read "Democrat," which would make this piece as true as the writer wants everyone to believe about America's up-and-coming patriotic party.

DONALD REED

Cloverdale

<b>Pot conundrum</b>

EDITOR: Thank you for Dan Morain's Oct. 29 column ("Gavin Newsom's new campaign: Legalizing Pot"). He points out the current mess caused by Proposition 215. Environmental degradation and use of herbicides, insecticides and other harmful chemicals is not the process of producing a useful "medicine."

Morain also describes the downfalls of legalizing pot, including serious public health issues (among them increased symptoms for severely mentally ill) and social consequences.

He correctly points out that legalizing marijuana would give it legitimacy and send the message that it is safe and OK to use.

What he failed to say is that government's role is not to trade the money and power created by marijuana sales for the greed of government in the veiled use of taxes and regulation with the same end — money and power.

Government's role is to do what is best for its people. Criminalizing marijuana has not worked. It would be best if it had never been made illegal, but it's too late. The public has been scammed by this marijuana issue by calling it a medicine. Comparing it to alcohol and tobacco should be enough to point out all the dangers.

MADELEINE MELO

Fort Bragg

<b>Going forward</b>

EDITOR: Peter Golis' column goes to the essence of the Andy Lopez tragedy ("Agonies of a city divided," Sunday).

Our southwest community, and those who sympathize with its residents, cries out in suffering, reflecting decades of deeply felt disenfranchisement and social neglect. In the past, there have been attempts to heal this serious problem. It appears that those in authority failed to follow through on their mandate.

Nothing will change unless we all realize that the measure of any society's security, if not greatness, corresponds to the way it treats its orphans and widows (to use a Biblical metaphor).

We all face mortality. Life isn't a gift; it's more of a loan.

The question that faces us is: How have we spent this loan? Is the world just a little better off for the fact that we passed through it?

If Andy's death results in the kinds of changes that will all but guarantee that such a tragedy never happens again, that those responsible will seek solutions to the various questions raised by the shooting of one so young and that our community can begin to take serious and permanent steps in healing the pain and suffering of a significant segment of its population, then Andy's life can transcend his years.

He will not have died in vain.

RABBI MORDECAI MILLER

Congregation Beth Ami

Santa Rosa