Re: “Augusta police fan out to crack down” (July 31):

Who is the genius who decided that what appears to be a military-style sweep of the city of Augusta is good community policing? There are any number of totalitarian regimes around the world looking for your leadership.

The specter of Operation Hot Spot should send chills down the collective spine of all Maine cities and towns.

Law enforcement plays an important role in our communities. We ask much of our police, and generally speaking, they perform well at what is often a thankless job. While we as citizens should support the law enforcement community, we should also take them to task when they overstep.

The thought of a mini-invasion of a community, ostensibly to “create community connections and crack down on criminal behavior,” does not fall that far from the sweeps in Eastern Europe of yesteryear. If you want community policing, bring back the cop on the beat, not a small army.

Law enforcement will argue that their tactics were benign; I argue, “Citizen beware.”

The mindset that says that if you have nothing to hide, you should welcome the presence of police belies the nature of humankind to abuse power once it has been obtained. Such a mindset all too quickly dismisses our rights as Americans to privacy – the right to be left alone.

I am not saying that the sky is falling, but tactics such as Operation Hot Spot should send us all looking for cracks. Big Brother – coming to a town near you.

Stephen Russell

South Portland