G-Men to the Rescue

January 17, 1992

With commies no longer hiding under every bed, the FBI is promising a "peace dividend."

Eighteen agents, who previously were involved in counter-intelligence, will be assigned to aid 36 already engaged in fighting violent crimes in the Baltimore region. "We can step in and assist local police departments with our investigative resources," says Bobby R. Gillham, special agent in charge of the FBI's regional office for Maryland and Delaware. "We plan to help take the streets back."

The FBI has chosen Baltimore -- along with Washington, Atlanta and Dallas -- as a pilot city where federal agents will work with local authorities to fight gang problems. "Our message to gang members is this: When we throw the federal book at you, it will be a knockout blow. There will be no bail, no probation, no parole. You will spend a long time in the federal penitentiary," promises U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr.

Exactly what the feds propose to do will be mapped out in a "violent crime summit" with police from Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Prince George's County. These agencies already cooperate on certain investigations. For instance, when two women became innocent victims in a drug traffickers' gunfight at the corner of Gold and Division Streets Christmas night, the FBI immediately obtained warrants to search for the gunmen who were thought to have fled to New York City. Without such cooperation, Baltimore City detectives would have lost much time in an investigation that posed complicated jurisdictional problems.

Effective law enforcement is a thankless and time-consuming job. Because of their other priorities, many FBI agents are unfamiliar with the myriad inner-city crime problems they now have promised to tackle. Yet the FBI has enviable resources. It can -- and ought to -- provide crucial help to local police departments in halting the recent migration to Maryland of young, trigger-happy New York City drug dealers.

Those apprentice hoods are responsible for many flagrant open-air drug markets which have transformed residential neighborhoods into pockets of fear. Heavily armed, they also are responsible for much of the violence that kept Baltimore City's homicide rate last year near record levels. Curbing this violence is a challenge for the FBI.

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