Thursday's letters: Breaking down barriers between police, community


At-risk youth

Bridging the police-public divide

Headlines across our nation have many asking questions about the desperate need for solutions that will improve community-police partnerships. How can we overcome the increasing divide between law enforcement and the public that is creating an environment of mistrust and increased violence? In response, there is a movement of nonprofit organizations who are in the trenches partnering with law enforcement to improve the outlook and perceptions of the police and public.

One such program, #BreakingBarriers, debuted at AMIkids Tampa, bringing the Tampa Police Department and at-risk youth together in a setting that promoted mutual respect and communication toward foraging positive relationships. This launch event signals the beginning of AMIkids' national effort across nine states to bridge the gap in police-community relations — particularly as it relates to law enforcement and at-risk youth. By creating ongoing opportunities for increased dialogue and interaction with police and troubled youth, AMIkids hopes to increase trust and break down the barriers that divide the communities it serves.

As the AMIkids National Board of Trustees chairman, I've met countless youth who have been touched by violence in their neighborhoods and are affected by the daily exposure to rising tension between the public and law enforcement. With the mission of helping troubled youth realize their potential and positively transform their lives, AMIkids is on the front lines working with at-risk youth in low-opportunity communities. Nonprofits, like AMIkids, know how important it is to heal what's broken today to impact the reality of tomorrow. Our youth are our future, and programs like #BreakingBarriers can help them find common ground with the police, enabling them to forge the positive relationships required for both parties to be successful.

Michael Neustom, National Board of Trustees chairman, AMIkids, Lafayette, La.

How to resist | Feb. 15, commentary

Character assassination

David Brooks is a hypocrite. He pretends to write about character and yet all he writes about is character assassination.

He attempts to destroy President Donald Trump by quoting Dietrich Bonhoeffer and St. Benedict. Both Bonhoeffer and St. Benedict would be appalled by Brooks' trivial attempt to attack the president after only 25 days in office.

He compares Trump to a fascist with no basis. Trump has done nothing more than to try to bring some rationality to government. Brooks urges us to "resist" something that is nothing more than a legitimate new direction by the president.

Brooks should not be so quick to judge. In The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer writes, "Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are." And yet Brooks urges us to resist the president of the United States for no other reason than Brooks doesn't like him. He should be ashamed of himself.

One of the strengths of the Rule of St. Benedict was discipline, sometimes called "compassionate discipline." Is that not the same thing that the president calls for, that we follow the rule of law and not bend or sway with the tenor of the times?

Brooks should go back and read more of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and St. Benedict.

Thomas Newcomb Hyde, Tampa

Ruling for women's rights | Feb. 18, commentary

Consider the preborn child

It is always amazing to me that articles and editorials on abortion-related issues can gloss over the interests of the party most affected by abortion, i.e., the unborn child. If a unique human person exists in the womb, then surely his or her welfare must be considered in any legislation or practice related to abortion which, after all, is designed to take his or her life.

I would argue that even the possibility that a unique human child exists in the womb calls for protection and preservation of that life, because our societal standard for taking human life is certainty — "beyond a reasonable doubt" certainty. In capital criminal cases, the judge instructs the jury that they can find the defendant guilty only if they are certain to the exclusion of a reasonable doubt. Why? Because a human life is involved. We must be certain. This standard prevails in all cases except abortion.

Does not the preborn child deserve at least the same consideration as an indicted murderer in a capital case?

Norman Dusseault, St. Petersburg

House Joint Resolution 69

Bilirakis vote disappoints

I am writing to express my frustration with Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, for voting "yes" on H.J. Res. 69, which will allow the use of cruel and egregious killing methods on federal public lands in Alaska. Aerial scouting, indiscriminate trapping, killing wolf pups in their dens — these are not legitimate wildlife control practices. They're barbaric.

These are federal public lands. We, as taxpayers, own them. It's not for the state of Alaska to trample over federal management imperatives just so trophy hunters can have an easier kill.

Jaimee C. Parry, Tarpon Springs

Trump calls news media 'enemy of the people' | Feb. 18

Press must not back down

To the editors and owners of the Tampa Bay Times: Please do not be intimidated by Donald Trump's declaration of the free press being the enemy of the people. Do not stop or tone down your reporting and investigations. We, the citizens of the United States, depend on you. The free press is our protection from a dictatorship.

I am hoping that I am not alone in declaring that I will support your efforts to continue to report the news as you discover it, and I am confident that you are not "inventing" news for the sake of creating chaos. Our country without a free press is not free.

Bill McManus, Oldsmar