Chief Is Right Choice; Benjamin Is Off-Base 

I would like to congratulate Style Weekly for its selection of Chief Rodney Monroe as the 2007 Richmonder of the Year (Cover Story, Jan. 2). As a member of the Richmond Police Department and resident of this city, I can think of no person who deserves it more.

I read Scott Bass' article, "The People's Chief," and strongly concur that Monroe deserves this title. However, based on my five years as a homicide investigator, I disagree with Bass' contention that lack of drug enforcement might have reduced Richmond's violent crime. True, not all homicides are drug-related, but much -- if not most — of Richmond's violent crime is committed by drug dealers or drug users.

Attorney Steve Benjamin's "academic" musings were even more incredulous. Benjamin posited the theory that due to stability in the local drug trade there have been fewer murders in Richmond. Is he serious? If one is to follow his logic, then to decrease violence further in 2008 the police should simply support Richmond's local drug gangs. Benjamin has a well-deserved reputation as an effective courtroom advocate, but his expertise remains in the field of legal maneuvering — not violent-crime reduction.

The bottom line is that hard-core narcotics have been a scourge that has caused untold suffering and misery in Richmond and many other urban areas. I don't think that anyone seriously believes that allowing drug dealers to ply their trade unmolested would make any community a safer place.

Lewis Mills

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