Regarding the Sept. 29 story, "Family to sue in Atlantic City Police Department beating ":
Condemning the entire Atlantic City Police Department Canine Unit because of what happened to David Castellani, of Linwood, is no different from judging people by race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, etc. and cuts against the very grain of our country and Constitution.
I am a retired ACPD sergeant and was involved in the formation of the department's original Canine Unit. There are three key elements in the formation of a canine team: selection, training and supervision.
Canine teams can offer a bridge, rather than a wedge, between the community and the police if used properly. Under the state attorney general's guidelines for use of police force, a canine is the fourth step, known as mechanical force, right below the fifth and final step, which is deadly force. On the other hand, just the deterrent value of having the canine present - which is the first step, known as constructive authority - offers the ability to prevent the use of any force, while providing the tools at hand should escalation of force become necessary.
If police canines are used in a fair and compassionate manner, a police department will experience a significant decrease in negative exposure, which also will lower any cost to the citizenry overall.
Do not judge the entire Atlantic City Police Department by isolated incidents. A shotgun approach causes collateral damage to innocent officers and weakens the relationship that is paramount for community partnership in the war on crime.
PATRICK K. HURLEY