Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke toured Freetown Village yesterday morning to see how the county's version of community policing has helped wipe out an open-air drug market.
The mayor spent one hour in the Pasadena community talking to children, police and residents while learning how county police officers have become involved in the lives of children there.
The police staff an office in the village 16 hours a day, and they return on their days off to take children on field trips, play in sports leagues and help them solve personal problems.
Mr. Schmoke said he would like to see Baltimore police create a program similar to Pasadena's, which is called Police and Community Together. "We will do as much as we can in Baltimore to bring about this type of program," he told the residents.
The hour the mayor spent in the community was welcomed by about 60 residents and children as well as the police, who hoped the media exposure would help promote the program.
"Mayor Schmoke is a person everybody looks up to," said Deputy Chief Ed Koch. "You heard him speak. He was great. You couldn't ask for any better."
The mayor talked to the children about his work as state's attorney for Baltimore, using a mock trial based on "The Three Little Pigs" to illustrate.
"I hope that when you grow up, you are always on the positive side of the court system," he said. "We never want to see you on the defendant's side."
The residents who attended the mayor's visit said the program deserves recognition.
"The police have done a lot of work backing us up," said Sheryl Hight, who is involved in the PACT program. "They watch us constantly. I know people who have been arrested for drugs, and now they have changed completely around."
That's the way it used to be in Freetown. As the mayor walked through the community, police officers pointed out old crack houses, including one raided recently in which a suspect threw drugs out of a second-story window and into the hands of a
"This used to be an open-air drug market," Chief Koch told the mayor. "It used to be, you would drive through here and they would swarm all over."
Officers told Mr. Schmoke that when they make drug arrests now, residents give them a standing ovation. Children, they said, can't wait to see their favorite officer drive in.
"It used to be they didn't want us in here," Chief Koch said. "I drove through here on Friday and my arm got tired of waving."