Letters to the editor

Readers respond to articles on remodeled homes and police shootings.


I do wish the Globe Magazine would stop highlighting remodeled homes that are beyond the means of most of its readers. The two saving graces: the home in Ipswich (“First Period, Second Life,” October 27) that is a treasure (it is wonderful that people of means were able to bring it back to its glory) and the summary of old home styles (“What’s Your Style?”). The other homes were in Back Bay, Manchester-by-the-Sea, and Wellesley, but it would have interested the majority of your readers if you had featured similar-style homes in places like Lawrence, Lowell, East Boston, or Lynn and people who found innovative ways to update their homes using their own sweat equity.

Margy Roeck


One of the joys of living in Ipswich is to watch these wonderful homeowners restore our many historical homes. Even just riding by & watching the progress is amazing. When I bring a friend to town for the first time, I always include a tour of our historical homes along with our fantastic beaches. All I can say is a big “Thank You”!


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I read Eileen McNamara’s essay on police use of deadly force with interest (Perspective, October 20). I have taught matters involving police use of deadly force for more than 30 years, including several years as an instructor of law at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Virginia. McNamara reports that seven subjects have been shot to death by law enforcement officers in the Commonwealth since June. What is not reported is that between 2002 and 2012, 591 officers were murdered in the line of duty in the United States. Law enforcement officers bravely respond to situations the general public cannot control and would probably run from if they could. Nonetheless, these officers have a right to go home safely at the end of each shift. The US Supreme Court has recognized the fact that officers are required to make instantaneous life-or-death decisions, and it established a standard that permits deadly force when the officer has probable cause that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious bodily harm to the officer or others. The officer does not have to wait until the suspect draws first blood or fires the first shot before initiating a lifesaving response. The court also created an “objective reasonableness” standard for examining an officer’s response to a hostile suspect’s potentially life-threatening conduct. The lower courts must consider the fact that the officers are often forced to make split-second decisions in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving. Finally, the court cautioned against using 20/20 hindsight in evaluating an officer’s response. Police officers are not required to make perfect decisions during these situations. The Supreme Court’s only requirement is that the officers act reasonably in the particular circumstances facing them. McNamara would apparently jettison the eminently reasonable standard created by the high court and substitute her own view of how an officer should respond.

John Michael Callahan Jr.

Chief Division Counsel/Supervisory Special Agent FBI (retired)


What unsettling questions are there here? These shootings were justified. If an officer fears for his life and public safety, he’s justified in taking the amount of force that is reasonable and necessary under the circumstances. I’m a combat Vietnam vet, and I retired after a 27-year career as a state trooper. I’ve never met a cop who wanted to shoot anyone. Cops don’t put themselves in a position where they have to shoot. The bad guys do that.

Tom Curran

Lieutenant, Massachusetts State Police (retired)

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The Boston Globe has reached a new low by publishing this half-baked, poorly researched essay condemning both police officers and the investigating authorities in a sour attempt to sell sensationalized journalism. In a time when gun violence is running rampant in our schools and on our streets, your publication and/or this author determined that seven suspects shot and killed by police officers across the Commonwealth was an epidemic — despite the fact that most, if not all, were a direct result of the suspects’ aggressive actions and none resulted in any type of criminal prosecution. We do have a gun problem in the United States of America, and nobody knows that better than those who wear one every day as part of their uniform (or those who did). From the moment we put on our service weapon, we are reminded of the responsibilities associated with the solemn oath we took to protect those we serve. There are other constant reminders associated with this dangerous profession, such as the body armor we put on each day in hopes that it will stop the bullet that was meant to kill us. Over the years, Massachusetts has had 340 police officers killed in the line of duty, and 120 of those were murdered by gunfire, including our member and friend Woburn Police Officer John “Jack” Maguire. Massachusetts officers are among the best trained and educated in the United States, yet nothing can prevent an unstable or extremely violent career criminal or terrorists from using whatever method or material they can get their hands on to expedite their crime. McNamara: Perhaps you should take your writing talents to the MIT Police Department and ask them what Officer Sean Collier could have done differently to ensure those two alleged cold-blooded killers didn’t pump multiple shots into his head at point-blank range.

Jerry Flynn

Executive Director

New England Police Benevolent Association

It must always remain right to question law enforcement’s actions. If a society fails to do so, it leaves the decision to use force in the hands of those who will tell you that they know better. The National Security Agency breaks rules because it knows what is best for our society — and we lose some of our privacy. Drastic action by our police should be reviewed by an independent civilian body.

Ty Howe


McNamara’s essay is a troubling commentary on both the dangers of police work and the critical need for well-funded, high-quality police training. Every day, police officers throughout the Commonwealth respond to people experiencing psychiatric crises in situations that can quickly deteriorate. The results are often unnecessary arrests and detentions of people with mental illness. At times, events result in avoidable injuries to the person at the center of the call and to the officers themselves. Advocates for people with mental illness and members of the law enforcement community are addressing the need for improved training to humanely respond to people experiencing a psychiatric crisis. NAMI Mass (the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts), the Massachusetts Municipal Police Training Committee, and the Department of Mental Health recently launched a training curriculum for all new police recruits, incorporating interactive exercises into a program taught by a mental health clinician and a police officer; training is increasing from four hours to 12 hours. We were surprised to learn Massachusetts spends among the lowest on police training per municipal officer in the nation, as of 2008; improved training is crucial to giving our police the tools to ensure everyone in our communities is free from unnecessary arrest and safe from harm.

Laurie Martinelli

Executive Director, NAMI Mass

Stephen Rosenfeld

Interim President, NAMI Mass

June S. Binney

Criminal Justice Project

Director, NAMI Mass

COMMENTS? Write to or The Boston Globe Magazine/Comments, PO Box 55819, Boston, MA 02205-5819. Letters are subject to editing.