'Police Chase' race dropped because of June ballgame

April 07, 1992|By Roger Twigg | Roger Twigg,Staff Writer

Perhaps, you can excuse Baltimore police officers if they don't break out into a chorus of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" June 7 when the Orioles play host to the Toronto Blue Jays.

June 7 is the date when a group of officers had planned to hold the 11th annual "Police Chase," a foot race that usually attracts about 1,000 runners and raises several thousand dollars for the Explorer Scouts in each of the nine police districts.

But the officers were forced to drop this year's race because it coincided with a ballgame.

City Hall officials would not grant a permit for the race because officers are needed for traffic and crowd control during the game.

"We have always done this [held the race] during the first weekend in June," said one of the police officers who organized the event. "It attracted a lot of police officers and some Sunday morning runners."

It is uncertain if the officers will be able to reschedule the event on another day.

Privately, some disgruntled officers say the permit was not issued in retaliation for a negative advertising campaign waged by Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 3.

The ads cited the city's high crime rate and urged residents to voice concern about cuts in the Police Department's budget.

The FOP was not involved in sponsoring the foot race.

"Unfortunately some officers viewed it that way [as retaliation for the ads]," said Mary B. Ross, a spokeswoman for the mayor's office. "I can assure you that had nothing to do with it. We are perfectly willing to process another date."

Ms. Ross said other events were affected by the June 7 ballgame.

The United Negro College Fund walk-a-thon had to be rescheduled, along with an acquired immune deficiency syndrome walk-a-thon sponsored by the Health Education Resources Organization, the spokeswoman said.

She said discussions are also under way to reschedule 1/8 1/8 TC Hispanic festival.

Ms. Ross said the mayor's office tries to cooperate with the Police Department by not issuing too many permits for events that are scheduled for the same day. "We don't stretch out their manpower too much," she explained.

Maj. John Lewandowski, commander of the Northeastern District, who serves as chairman for the race, said no decision has been made on whether it can be rescheduled.

The organizers don't want to schedule it for mid- or late summer when the heat and humidity are highest.

If the race is rescheduled, it will probably be held in the fall, an organizer said.

Money generated by the event is used to buy uniforms and provide camping trips for the Explorer Scout units, police said.

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