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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Recently here in the Santa Rosa area, a police officer shot and killed a man who was behaving in an irrational manner. He was advancing toward the officer with a wooden bar in his hand.

A few weeks ago, a man was killed at a service station because he attacked a police officer with a screwdriver.

Abby, I think I have a way for the police to protect themselves without killing anybody if they feel threatened.

I have always enjoyed "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom." When they have shown episodes where they were checking on the health of a potentially dangerous creature such as an elephant, rhino, etc., they shot the creature with a tranquilizer before approaching it!

It seems to me that having a tranquilizer gun in his hand instead of a .357-caliber Magnum would give the police the means to gain control of an incident, and allow everyone to go home to their families without being in a coffin.

Why can't the police use a tranquilizer gun in cases where they feel threatened? -- WAYNE IN SANTA ROSA, CALIF.

DEAR WAYNE: That's an interesting question, and one that I took to James Butts, chief of police in Santa Monica, Calif., who responded, "Tranquilizing agents don't affect everyone uniformly. Therefore you cannot predict whether or not you have a sufficient dose to tranquilize the individual.

"Second, any tranquilizer will take time to enter the bloodstream and sedate the individual. If someone is advancing on you with a deadly weapon or a threatening object, there's no way a tranquilizer would take effect in the two to three seconds it would take someone to seriously injure you."

DEAR ABBY: My brother and his wife moved to Paris, France, for business reasons about 10 months ago. Since then, I've been put in an awkward situation, having been appointed their U.S. domestic secretary on matters ranging from summer camp registration to resolving old traffic tickets, banking and even the filing of income tax extension forms.

In the beginning, I didn't mind being asked. I am organized, efficient and get the job done. I also feel that my children and their cousins have always been close, and that's important to me.

However, I am at my wit's end and want to bow out of any other assignments from abroad. Also, I have yet to receive one thank-you note or phone call of thanks from my brother's wife, who is known to be selfish and very self-centered.

Abby, how can this situation come to an amicable solution without upsetting all involved? I don't want the harmony among the six cousins to be damaged in any way. -- HAD IT IN LEXINGTON, KY.

DEAR HAD IT: Begin filling your communications with your brother and sister-in-law with how busy you are catering to the needs of your husband, your children and your job (if you have one). If you are given another assignment, explain that your schedule does not permit you to do it "right now." Gradually wean them from their dependence on you. As you become less available, they'll either get the message or find a more willing domestic secretary.

DEAR ABBY: I am writing to ask if you know how the story of the birds and bees goes.

I often hear people mention the story, but they never say how it goes. Please put this in your column because I know there are other kids who would like to know. Thank you. -- A KID IN PORT RICHEY, FLA.

DEAR KID: There is no "story." When someone makes reference to "the birds and the bees," they mean the story of "reproduction" -- how they came into the world. This is sometimes called "sex education."

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