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Not a Job for Amateurs

March 23, 1992

In response to the Los Angeles Police Department enlisting volunteers with video cameras (Times Valley Edition, March 7), I have to agree with Alfred Himelson that the program "could get out of hand."

The Police Department is truly understaffed, but the solution is not an army of armchair vigilantes toting cameras. The men and women of our police force have a dangerous enough job without untrained civilians getting involved in dangerous situations. And it is a dangerous matter. Why else would volunteers be required to sign release forms waiving claims against the city in case of injury?

Police officers are trained to deal with hazardous situations and are better equipped to handle them than are amateurs. Ideally, the solution would be more funds for law enforcement and an increase in the number of police in high-crime areas.

I hope that the LAPD will act responsibly in sponsoring this program and that the participants will serve only as watchdogs and be discouraged from taking matters into their own hands. The key to a free society is eternal vigilance, but vigilantism leads to anarchy.

JUSTIN SILLER, West Hills

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