THE REGION

Low-Level Flyovers by Military Set to Begin

The U.S. military said it will begin flying two small aircraft at low altitudes across the region today as part of a radar data collection project. The Cessna 206 and Twin Otter will fly over the District and nearby suburbs in Maryland and Virginia for a few hours during the morning and afternoon this week, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration said.

"The purpose of these flights is to obtain radar data from a variety of aircraft in and around the National Capital Region," the Department of Defense said in a statement yesterday. "Citizens throughout the region may hear aircraft noise at various times and see these aircraft as they fly routes similar to normal Washington, D.C., air traffic."

The Pentagon and the FAA said that they have coordinated the flights with the North American Aerospace Defense Command and that the flights would have "relatively minor" impact on commercial aircraft.

Mixing Bowl Work to Close Beltway Lane

Beginning July 23, one lane of the inner loop of the Capital Beltway will be closed for 18 months to accommodate construction of an overhead bridge for the Springfield interchange project, Virginia Department of Transportation officials said.

The inner loop will shrink from three lanes to two for about three-quarters of a mile west of the exit for the northbound lanes of Interstate 395, officials said.

All lanes of the inner loop will be closed for stretches of up to 15 minutes from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. the nights of July 21 and 22 as highway workers prepare the site for construction, officials said.

VIRGINIA

Lorton Man Killed in Pa. Regatta Accident

A boating event in Pennsylvania ended in tragedy Sunday when a participant from Lorton was killed.

Brant Hilson, 31, died in the Hiawatha Riverfest Regatta after a boat in front of his lost power in a turn. Mike Strunk, the race organizer, said Hilson was unable to stop in time and the two boats collided.

MARYLAND

Police Vow to Provide More Rape Data

The Montgomery County Police Department has pledged to release more information about rapes and other crimes to the public, after criticism that the department was withholding some crime information.

"We absolutely agree with the philosophy of having a transparent police department and working to keep the public informed," Capt. John Fitzgerald, a police spokesman, said at a meeting of the public safety committee yesterday.

The Gazette, a newspaper owned by The Washington Post Co., reported last month that police released information on only one of the 36 rapes reported in the first three months of the year.

Police said they do not usually issue news releases in cases where the victim knows the accused. Announcing the name of a man who molested his daughter, for example, would indirectly identify the victim, police said. Instead, police say, they will release some of that information in a news summary distributed to media several times a week.

Police said they will also be less conservative when interpreting the Maryland Public Information Act.

"I'm glad you're treating the Public Information Act as a floor, not as a ceiling," said Montgomery County Council member Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg), chairman of the public safety committee. "I think the policy is a better policy now."

O'Malley Backed in Dispute With Ehrlich

A judge decided in favor of Baltimore officials in a dispute that pitted Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. against potential gubernatorial rival Mayor Martin O'Malley over who should run the city's Department of Social Services.

The Ehrlich administration appointed Floyd Blair, a lawyer who worked with President Bush's Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, as interim director of the troubled city agency in September. O'Malley sued, arguing that the city must have a say in the key appointment.

Baltimore Circuit Judge M. Brooke Murdock gave the two sides 45 days to agree on a new candidate to run the department.

"From the very beginning, our argument was that the process had not been followed, and the judge's decision today confirmed that," said Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for O'Malley (D).

Ehrlich (R), in a statement released by his press office, did not say whether he will appeal the Circuit Court decision.

Flooding in Havre de Grace Reaches 10 Feet

A torrential downpour yesterday afternoon caused flooding in Havre de Grace, closing streets, stranding motorists and inundating basements.

Three to five inches of rain fell in a few hours beginning about 1 p.m., according to Mia Kilgore, communications operator for the Havre de Grace Police Department.

"Water is eight to 10 feet in the streets. We're urging people to remain calm and stay put" until the water has receded, Kilgore said.

No injuries were reported, "although lots of cars are stalled" in high water, Kilgore said.

The District

Bill Regulating Police at Protests Readied

The chairwoman of the D.C. Council's Judiciary Committee said yesterday that she plans to introduce legislation today that would regulate police procedures during demonstrations and protests.

The bill comes after criticism of the D.C. police department's handling of anti-globalization demonstrations in 2002. A judiciary committee report concluded in March that D.C. police officials conspired to deflect blame and cover up evidence of their wrongdoing during mass arrests of the protesters.

The bill would set new standards for when police can disrupt an event and would limit the use of physical restraints for protesters, according to a news release issued by Kathy Patterson (D-Ward 3), who heads the committee.

Patterson said in the release that the measure aims to balance protesters' rights and law enforcement's ability to protect the public.

"Under no circumstances do I think gambling should come to the District of Columbia, period. [Slots]bring crime. They bring corruption. They result in the breakdown of families and create addictions."

-- Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), a House Appropriations subcommittee chairman, on how the unfolding voter initiative to legalize slots in the District faces a dubious fate in Congress. -- Page A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Steven Ginsberg, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Amit R. Paley and Del Quentin Wilber and the Associated Press.