2nd councilman gives Woods 6 months to cut crime or resign

January 08, 1993|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,Staff Writer

Criticism of the Schmoke administration's handling of runaway violence in the city continued yesterday, with another city councilman calling for Police Commissioner Edward V. Woods' resignation, if nothing is done to reduce crime in the next six months.

Councilman Martin J. O'Malley, D-3rd, echoed the remarks of Councilman Lawrence A. Bell III, a 4th District Democrat, who on Wednesday called for Commissioner Woods' resignation if the crime rate did not drop over the same period.

"I'd just like to see a little progress," Mr. O'Malley said. "I think he should resign in six months if nothing happens. I don't think ultimatums are good things, but at least it's a timetable -- which is more than we've ever been given by the police commissioner."

Like Mr. Woods' other critics, Mr. O'Malley was quick to point out that his complaints about violent crime in this city were not with the rank and file of the Police Department but with the hierarchy.

"There's just a real ivory tower attitude in the commissioner's office," he said, citing "severe" morale problems among patrol officers.

Last year, a 20-year-old record was broken when 335 people were murdered.

Clinton R. Coleman, the mayor's press secretary, defended his boss and Commissioner Woods, saying, "I don't remember a call for new leadership in the Police Department or City Hall in the '70s, when the number of murders broke the record then.

"The mayor walks these streets and talks to these communities and knows these communities and their frustrations," Mr. Coleman said. "Many of them know that he is not sitting back with an uncaring attitude and taking no action. What the mayor tells them is that we're here to help, but you've got to help us by reporting drugs and guns.

"He's asking them to come up with positive solutions," he said. "It's really not very helpful to sit back and point fingers and blame."

While other community leaders stopped short of calling for Commissioner Woods' resignation, frustration with perceived silence from City Hall and police headquarters on the issue of crime is evident.

"Someone has to be held accountable," said George N. Buntin Jr., executive secretary of the Baltimore chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "A lot of this is public relations. It's conveying to the public that you are concerned and actively doing something, that you're willing to do anything within reason that's do-able."

"This administration . . . has not shown a willingness to really try everything possible to stem the shooting and crime in this city," Mr. Buntin said.

He said he would like to see Mr. Schmoke sit down with Gov.

William Donald Schaefer to discuss bringing in the Maryland State Police or National Guard to patrol city streets.

The Rev. Marion C. Bascom, pastor of the Douglas Memorial Community Church at Lafayette and Madison avenues, was supportive of Mr. Schmoke and Commissioner Woods, and the idea of state involvement.

"I think it would be a tremendously powerful first step," said Mr. Bascom, who is also Mr. Schmoke's pastor. "But we need other '' voices in the mix, because this thing is more than politics -- it is economics, homelessness, joblessness and hopelessness. . . . We're talking about something that's larger than Eddie Woods or Kurt Schmoke."

City Council President Mary Pat Clarke said she wanted to see the department's community policing implemented as soon as possible.

"I think that Councilman Bell's main focus was, 'Let's go,' " Mrs. Clarke said. "It seems to me you have to plan your public safety program from the neighborhood up.

"You don't sit somewhere downtown trying to find out what to do in some alley in East Baltimore," Mrs. Clarke said. "You go to the alley and see what resources you have and talk to your officers and see what the community says."

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