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Patrol officers should protect public, not lay speed traps

Editor: Traffic control units are becoming a public nuisance, which may be eroding the trust and respect for law enforcement. These units rarely apprehend reckless drivers though they intimidate, harass and anger law-abiding citizens. Using traffic control units to satisfy federal transportation grant quotas, or to increase revenue, appears on the surface to be judicious for sheriff departments. It increases local revenue through court fines and mandatory class fees. The number of patrol officers can increase without political hassle.

The unsuspecting citizen driving to work as usual or on a leisurely trip is shocked when ticketed by a police officer. Those individuals driving on artificially low speed limit roads, with the flow of traffic, going down a hill or a couple of miles above the speed limit often feel victimized. Many law-abiding citizens believe speed traps are legalized extortion.

The individual resentment of a politically unconnected person or senior citizen can easily be ignored by an arresting officer as merely fulfilling his "quota." The cumulative effect of various citizens going through this injustice is, and will be, a growing nightmare for law enforcement's public relations. Alienated and disrespectful citizens become a barrier to an officer attempting to prevent, intervene or apprehend individuals engaged in criminal behavior.

Like any public service organization, law enforcement has to view itself as "caretaker" of the community's well-being, not as a group attempting to enlarge the organization for the purpose of job security and/or advancement.

People are reluctant to increase taxes even when agencies have what they believe are justifiable and important reasons for doing so. The elaborate system for levying taxes is excruciatingly slow, as it well should be, and may delay valuable changes. However, law enforcement administrators should follow their mission of protecting the community and avoid reshaping traffic control to become an ingenious means to increase agency revenue.

The average citizen knows when police are responsive to protecting family and property. The fabric of society is held together, in part, by law enforcement. Police need to be encouraged to do their noble and dangerous job by an administration that clearly states their priorities. Administrators need to de-emphasize revenue generation through speed traps and emphasize law enforcement to protect the community. Returning patrolmen to the basic job of protecting citizens is the answer.

Domenick J. Maglio

Brooksville

Spend now on children to save later

Editor: A word of praise for two of your fine reporters, Collins Conner and Louise Andryusky, for their recent stories and columns on the Children's Services Council referendum.

Ms. Conner's story (Vote on agency pits taxes youth, 10/7) dealt with all aspects of this controversial proposition in a most articulate, concise and thorough manner. Anyone who doesn't understand, or still has doubts, should definitely read her in-depth analysis.

Ms. Andryusky's beautifully written column (Children are a good investment, 10/15) explains, as only she can, both sides of this story. Her reasoning for backing this referendum is passionate and convincing.

Hopefully, the voters of Hernando County will realize that the small expenditure now will save untold thousands in the future. The price tag for jail construction is very high, indeed. We'll need institutions to incarcerate those youngsters whose problems escalated into a life of crime in their adult years.

But, most important, what a waste of human potential if we don't help them.

Trudy Van Etten

Spring Hill

Taxpayers cannot afford another tax

Editor: Re: Ordinance No. 90.14 for the creation of a countywide, independent special district to provide juvenile welfare services throughout Hernando County providing a governing board to be known as the "Children's Service Council of Hernando County," providing for the membership and appointment of members, providing for powers and duties of the council, establishing a fiscal year and providing for a budget; providing for the authorization of the levy of ad valorem taxes not to exceed one-half mill subject to a referendum; providing for an effective date and providing for filing with the department of state; providing for inclusion within the county code.

The first thing I don't like _ it is set up like the Southwest Florida Water Management District. The council will not be elected by the taxpayers, but will have the power to assess us for taxes with no accountability to you and I, "taxation without representation."

I am weary of hearing we are not doing enough for Hernando County's youth. Our school taxes are now more than one-half of our tax burden. The school budget is $97-million; some $56-million just to operate the system. We just completed some $44-million worth of school construction with $58-million in the pipeline for the next five-year period.

This year we added in $250,000 forexpanding our library system, with electronic automation and more computers planned for next year. I can go on and on .

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The long list of problem youngsters I read about in the paper are not the taxpayers' responsibility. Where are their parents? If these parents feel they are entitled to more social services than Hernando has, perhaps they should move to Pinellas or Hillsborough counties, where these services in place. We all feel bad about these problems, but how much more money can be drained out of senior citizens?

One-third of Hernando County's 65 years of age and older live in this poor county. In my day if you had a retarded child in your family the parents took care of him or her until they passed on. Then it became the responsibility of the next older child in line.

Today, they dump the youngster on the state. We now have an infant and toddlers act that takes children at risk (as young as 3 years old) for our teachers to handle in our school system. This will cost millions more a year to implement.

It seems our social engineers never have enough money. In our last budget the county specified $385,000 Guidance Center funding, plus amounts for welfare _ Medicaid got a big chunk of money, $410,000. Then, again, the Youth & Family Alternatives got $10,000; Hernando County Health Care Board, another $10,000. HARC (Hernando Association for Retarded Citizens) got a 29 percent increase to $62,000, plus the state shelled out for mental health $870,000, indigent care and Medicaid and all these others.

How is this money spent? I have never seen any accounting of these funds. Do any of our county agents ever review these outlays of tax dollars? I forgot to mention we have a Title XX Day Care Fund that increased by 100 percent to $2,503.

Vote against Proposition 4. We cannot afford it.

Fred F. Wall

Spring Hill

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