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Demilitarizing police

EDITOR: The death of Andy Lopez is a tragedy for all of us because it signals the descent of our society from peaceable neighborliness and mutual care to a state of constant internecine conflict. If our conflicts were expressed solely in dialogues, even arguments, that would be tolerable. Now, however, conflicts are too often expressed with mutual violence implemented by guns. Nowhere is this more evident than in the militarization of our law enforcement agencies.

How can we reverse our descent into armed madness? One way is very simple and direct. The Board of Supervisors can begin to de-militarize the Sheriff's Office There is, for example, no real need to have a military surplus weapons carrier in its armory. There is no real need to equip peace officers with riot gear to monitor peaceable protests.

To our militarized deputies, I say, we citizens are not your enemy. We are your employers and clients, even if some of us are certifiably crazy or enraged by life from time to time and need your help.

To our supervisors, I say, it is time to exercise real leadership to bring peace back into law enforcement; back to our peace officers.

PETER LAWSON

Valley Ford

Selfish coverage?

EDITOR: I have read letters complaining that the insurance required by the Affordable Care Act covers unneeded services such as maternity care. I wonder if the writers support the law providing birth control?

There are services I will never use on my employee insurance, including prenatal and well-baby care, but I feel that society benefits from those services even though I never wanted or had children. Do I need prostate exams? No, but society benefits from preventive services. The worst offenders were policies that provided for Viagra but not birth control.

There are few companies that provide customized policies for the selfish among us.

LINDA ROBINETT

Sebastopol

Conflicts of interest

EDITOR: Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch should have declined to lead the investigation of the shooting death of Andy Lopez by Deputy Erick Gelhaus because of conflicts of interest.

The prosecutor's office has a symbiotic relationship with both the sheriff and Santa Rosa Police Department. They rely on one another for cooperation in cases, with consequent loss of transparency. Even Sheriff Steve Freitas has suggested there could be better systems than investigation by a personal friend.

The Santa Rosa City Council should direct its Police Department not to participate in the investigation. After all, the police and sheriff have been cooperating for 20 years, investigating one another and finding little or no fault.

When was the last time a sheriff was elected from outside the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office? Freitas ran unopposed in the last election. Do these factors contribute to a cultural problem?

Now we have three criminal justice agencies that lack credibility in this tragic case and cannot engender trust in the community. A more impartial investigator could begin to rebuild that trust.

NOEL ADAMS

Healdsburg

Coastal protection

EDITOR: The California coast put on a tremendous show to welcome Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to Point Arena ("A coastal roadshow," Nov. 9): The sun was shining, surf pounding, blowholes spouting and humpback whales breaching.

She was there for a town hall meeting on the permanent protection of this outstandingly scenic area (identified as one of the most ecologically important parts of the Northern California coast) and specifically to gauge the community's reactions to the proposal to add the Stornetta Public Lands to the California Coastal National Monument.

Experience has demonstrated the wisdom of protecting our unique and irreplaceable natural treasures by creating national monuments on lands and waters already owned by the American people. I hope that after seeing public enthusiasm as demonstrated by the standing-room-only crowd of at least 300 people in the diminutive Point Arena City Hall, Jewell will encourage President Barack Obama to use his powers under the Antiquities Act to permanently protect these amazing tide pools, bluffs and wetlands by including Stornetta as the first mainland addition to the monument.

VICTORIA BRANSON

Chairwoman, Sierra Club redwood chapter