Mother Pleads For More Police

June 05, 1991|By Gary Gately | Gary Gately,Staff writer

When she looks out her window, Emma Hall grieves for all that is lost on the streets outside.

She sees the young faces of the drug dealers plying their trade in the Robinwood public housing community, and she thinks of her only son.

About a year ago, she chose to send him to jail to get him off the streets, where he made a living dealing drugs.

Monday night, 47-year-old Hall came to City Hall to ask lawmakers to help save her streets, her neighborhood and all of those kids outside.

"If I turnedmy own son in, I think the rest of them should go, too," Hall told City Council members. "You go out back, there's drugs. You go out front, there'sdrugs. There's drugs all over now."

Her son, 23, just served 10 months after she turned him in for dealing hallucinogens.

Maybe he never would have gone to jail, maybe he would have found a real job if the open air markets didn't surround his home, Hall said.

Like other Robinwood residents among more than 125 people at a public hearing on the city budget, Hall said drug dealing is as rampant as it's ever been at Robinwood, and only round-the-clock policing will shut down the open-air markets.

Residents of the community pleaded for 24-hour police foot patrols. They were joined by young children who carried signs like the one that said, "Our community should be drug-free, violence-free."

Alderman Carl O. Snowden, the Ward 5 Democrat whose district includes Robinwood, supported the residents' effort, saying he feared more drug dealing and possibly violence unlessthe city steps in.

"You have 150 families at Robinwood, and the overwhelming consensus is that they need police presence," he said. "And they really do need it 24 hours a day."

Testimony from residents of the city's public housing communities dominated Monday night's hearing on Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins' $36.8 million budget.

Hopkins' spending plan, which the council votes on by June 24, would hold taxes at $1.80 per $100 of assessed value while, adding five police officers but holding the line on most other city spending.

While Robinwood residents pushed for 24-hour police foot patrols, the Newtowne 20community sent dozens of people to lobby for sidewalks and a trafficsignal along a dangerous stretch of Forest Drive.

"What we're saying is, don't wait until one of our kids get killed to do something,"said Elaine Young, a mother of three.

Like other residents of thecommunity and nearby Woodside Gardens, Young said their children must walk through tall grass along the 40-mph section of Forest Drive and cross the road with no signal to get to stores and summer basketball games.

The county is to put up the signal, but not before 1993, after the state widens Forest Drive. County planners have said that adding a light before the road is widened would worsen already nightmarish congestion.

But Aldermen Samuel Gilmer, D-Ward 3, and Snowden, who represents Newtowne, suggested that if the county refuses to add the signal sooner, the city should seek and pay for a safer alternative. Gilmer also said a service road along Forest Drive would reducecongestion enough to convince county planners to put in the signal earlier.

Both aldermen also said the city should start providing transportation to summer basketball games so that youngsters don't haveto cross the dangerous road.

Others who attended the public hearing lobbied for money to:

* Preserve the Martin Luther King Jr. minority scholarship program. Hopkins has proposed halving city spending, from $5,000 to $2,500, for the program, which has been matched by $5,000 in private money.

* Keep the "Shopper Dropper" bus service in Annapolis. The service had been cut from the budget, but advocates said it could be saved by increasing the 30-cent fare, publicizing itmore or combining it with a shuttle for state workers.

* Restore $30,000 for a counseling program run by the Community Action Agency to help renters become homeowners.

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