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    Letters to the Editors

    Understaffing police endangers public and officers


    © St. Petersburg Times
    published August 19, 2002

    Re: Chief touts police force to inquiring city officials, story, Aug. 10.

    First let me say that Clearwater Police Chief Sid Klein and the residents of Clearwater should be very proud of their police department. I don't live in the city limits, but am the wife of one of the officers. I've been to numerous functions where I've met officers and their families from all over the state and the country. I can say without a doubt that we have one of the best police departments around.

    Sure, each department can use improvements and strive to achieve more. But Clearwater has some of the hardest working, professional and dynamic people serving as its police officers.

    When I read that City Commissioner Whitney Gray made a comment about adding police officers until there is one for every resident, I had to write in. I'd be curious to see how many officers feel that the police department is understaffed. There are times when they get very busy. For officer safety, you need to have an adequate number of officers on duty at once.

    Clearwater is a very happening place, as the chief mentioned. People from all over the county, state and country come to Clearwater and its beaches year-round. The public is in danger when their police department is understaffed because of budget restraints. This also causes poor morale in the department. And if you have unhappy employees, it's difficult to have a productive team.

    When budgets are cut and new officers aren't hired to fill the gaps created from retiring officers and ones that relocate, then officer safety is compromised. Look at the St. Petersburg Police Department. A few months ago, the wives and families of the St. Petersburg police officers were picketing because of the lack of officers. I'm sure the Clearwater city commissioners don't want picketing family members at their doorsteps.

    I'm also sure that if there is money being spent unnecessarily elsewhere in the city, the police and fire departments are the priority and should get the money they need, period.

    Having adequate officers on the street is crucial. A perfect example was last month when Officer John Bennett saved a child from drowning. If the Police Department were understaffed even more, Officer Bennett might have been on another important call and unable to save that boy's life. Can you put a price tag on that, Ms. Gray?

    I urge the Clearwater city commissioners to not make a huge mistake by not appreciating our police department, and to give them the budget and benefits that they not only need but deserve.
    -- Tracie White, Clearwater

    Some answers about Scientology

    Re: What, exactly, is the deal with Scientology?, letter, July 30.

    I understood that through his letter he was really asking, "What is Scientology?" That seems a fair question and one that deserves an answer in an area in which some 10,000 people practice the religion of Scientology. An up-close look by visiting the church at the Fort Harrison Hotel for its open house on any Sunday is one way of getting that question answered.

    Scientology is an applied religious philosophy. It is taken from the Latin scio, which means "knowing in the fullest sense of the word" and the Greek word logos, meaning "study of." It literally means "knowing how to know."

    Scientology itself is defined as "the study and handling of the spirit in relationship to itself, universes and other life." Scientology addresses the spiritual being. It directly raises his awareness and ability; and by so doing, he also becomes increasingly able to overcome the negative factors that impair him.

    A full description of Scientology along with facts on its churches, services and related organizations are contained in the book, What is Scientology? which can be purchased at any of several major bookstores or can be picked up from a local library.

    Again, I would I like to invite anyone to find out more about Scientology by attending our open house from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays at the Fort Harrison or our Sunday service at 11 a.m. The open house includes a comprehensive photo exhibit, which depicts the life of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Please call (727) 467-6860 for more information.
    -- Pat Harney, public affairs director Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization Office of Special Affairs, Clearwater

    Article tainted memory of brother

    Your Aug. 3 article, Tarpon man steps into traffic, dies, was extremely insensitive and inappropriate. That was my brother, James Johnson, who was killed in that accident -- a truly amazing person who affected the lives of so many people, who loved and lived life to its fullest, and always taught others to do the same.

    Now such a great person has been taken from us quickly, and left with a tainted image of his character by you and your newspaper for thousands to read.

    My brother made a mistake March 14, a mistake that he lived with so that others wouldn't have to. Your article publishing his mistake for others to read after such a horrible accident was in extremely bad taste. I'm not sure if your newspaper feels better about printing such things to make it look as though justice has been served; but my brother, James, was a wonderful person who did not deserve that. He was a victim of a horrible accident.

    When a person loved by so many is taken from us so quickly and so tragically, perhaps you should do a little more research from those who knew him. Print some of the great things they did in their lives, not one mistake they made that bears no relevance and leaves an irremovable scar on the image and last memory family and friends would have on such a great person.
    -- Jessie Johnson, Tarpon Springs

    Watching Shoppingtown

    Re: Goodbye, mall: Hello, shoppingtown, story, Aug. 12.

    You had better believe that the shoppers at Countryside Mall (Westfield Shoppingtown) noticed the changes. There is so much red and so many pictures of Sarah the Duchess of York that you would think she was running for a political office.

    My son informed me that the price of his fast food at the mall has gone up, and soft drink refills are now 25 cents. This couldn't be because the rent has gone up, could it? If it has, will the result be loss of wages and jobs?

    On a positive note, Shoppingtown has been in meetings with the city of Clearwater to share its well water to irrigate the medians on Countryside Boulevard. This will enhance the beautification project that has been completed on the property. Shoppingtown is part of our community, but will they support local projects? Only time will tell.
    -- John Wiser, Clearwater

    Seeking a spirit of ecumenism

    Re: Church was right to discipline pastor, letter, Aug. 7.

    Letter writer John Mashburn decries "religious diversity" as being the object of the ban against false gods contained in the First Commandment given to Moses, as well as the caution against pagan idols in 2 Cor. 6:16. If the worship of false gods is the meaning of religious diversity, then I am in agreement with the writer -- to this point.

    But he goes on and refers to Christ's statement in the gospel of Matthew that his mission is only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. This is part of the story of the Canaanite (a Gentile) woman who asked Jesus to cure her daughter of possession by a demon (Matthew 15: 21-28 or Mark 7:25-30). Her persistence in pleading for help moves the Lord to compassion, and he grants her wish.

    This is but one instance in which Christ extended his mission to people who were not Israelites, such as to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:7-29), and the Roman centurion (Matthew 8:5-13). And as he prepares to leave this world and return to the Father, he commissions his followers to spread belief in him to all people, even to the ends of the Earth (Matthew 28:1-20).

    Apparently, it is faith in him that counts. And who is to say how that faith can come to be? If a believer never associates with nonbelievers, how is the good news to be spread? Jesus promised that where two or three are gathered together in his name, he would be with them. I don't recall any mention that the two or three had to be of any particular creed or ethnic origin.

    Yes, it is time for Christian America to obey God and abjure false gods, which ought not to prevent all the descendants of Abraham (Jews, Christians and Muslims) from gathering in a spirit of ecumenism to beg for protection, brotherly love and the blessings of the one god we all believe in.
    -- Art Deegan, Clearwater

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