The recent no-show by neo-Nazis who had applied for a parade permit to march down Pennsylvania Avenue [Metro, Aug. 8] prompts the question: If the marchers don't march, can you still charge them for the $500,000 it cost to deploy an extra 1,450 D.C. police officers for the event?

The ballyhoo over the non-rally suggests a larger question: When will the reaction to possible and often credible threats be tempered by some practical and insightful reasoning?

As Washington has reacted to such threats over the years, it has assumed more of the feel of an armed camp than a capital city. Lafayette Park, with its concrete barriers at the north end and its movable metal crowd-control devices that regularly disrupt and limit the use of large portions of the park, is an apt metaphor for the type of restrictions that, unfortunately, we have become both accustomed to and accepting of.

The neo-Nazi non-march, led by a college senior and a few Internet members, demonstrates just how far the quest for security has gone. Washington is and should be a livable and enjoyable city. To give in to our worst fears and to those whose job is to create a "safe" environment at any cost, invites the usurpation of these objectives.

Reasonable precautions should be taken to deal with threats against our security, but reasonable restraint must also be exercised to ensure that we do not become the hostages of those charged with protecting our safety.

ROBERT E. POKUSA

Alexandria