Taking Responsibility for CrimeState's Attorney Stuart O...

SATURDAY MAIL BOX

May 08, 1993

Taking Responsibility for Crime

State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms is being unfair and unrealistic in his impugning the ability and integrity of the recent grand jury, in his lengthy letter of April 17.

There is some justification for the alleged lack of cooperation with the police by inner-city residents. It is the feeling of the public in the drug-infested inner city that only minor perpetrators are arrested and prosecuted for drug dealings.

It is the inner-city belief that the legal officialdom cannot, or more likely will not, touch the really top personages in the drug dealing and international smuggling market; top elected and appointed politicos, inside and outside the Washington Beltway, and top business executives working from their 20th-floor board rooms.

Who are those persons mentioned in Mr. Simms' letter as being drug wholesalers? They are just unknown, insignificant locals in the eyes of the inner-city residents. The really big wheeler-dealers, money launderers, escape.

Mr. Simms should be well aware that merely scratching the surface does not satisfy the victimized residents of drug-plagued neighborhoods.

Even though it's probably true that budget restraints prevent Mr. Simms' office from involving itself in international drug dealing, he should not be critical of the tone of the grand jury's report. Rather, he should be in sympathy with the grand jurors' frustrations, and deeply regretful that he cannot do more.

And why did he think the grand jury would seek or accept assistance from his office? That would be like letting the fox into the henhouse.

Mr. Simms should be ashamed of himself for even thinking about obstructing further investigation.

He should publicly apologize to Judge Kenneth Johnson and the grand jury and pledge his utmost cooperation in uncovering the true facts of international drug smuggling and dealing, if for no other reason than to placate the inner-city victimized populace.

Harry E. Bennett Jr.

Baltimore

____________

Have no doubts about this. Underlying the grand jury report critical of the drug enforcement activities of the Baltimore Police Department is a subtle political message.

This is not to say that there is no merit to the report in terms of the handling of cases involving prominent citizens. These allegationsagainst the commanders of the police department should not be taken lightly.

But, nor should these allegations be utilized as convenient excuses for the blight of street-level drug-dealing and violent crime that plagues the mainly African-American community in the central strip of our city that encompass the Eastern and Western police districts.

These two districts have the dubious distinction of producing the highest crime rates in the city. A major share of the homicides, shootings, armed robberies and aggravated assaults occur in these districts. They consistently lead the city in drug arrests -- especially arrests for cocaine and heroin. It is projected that in the Eastern District alone in 1993 there will occur between 400 and 500 shooting incidents.

The grand jury report decries the lack of cases filed against drug kingpins and money launderers (read that as European-Americans).

The excuse that drug kingpins and money launderers are to blame for the crime and drugs in the African-American community rings hollow upon closer inspection. The drug dealers are operating in these communities because their customersare there and the climate is not as hostile to criminal activity. This is known as supply and demand.

The Sun editorialized on April 6, "Criminals are opportunists. If the environment is hostile to crime, they will go elsewhere. If citizens don't take on the responsibility of fighting crime, they can't expect to have a community free from it."

The problem in the African-American community is not that the police arrest too many street-level dope-dealers (read that as African-American males), and not enough drug kingpins and money-launderers. The problem is that members of these communities have been unable or unwilling to police their own households.

Evidence in recent and past studies shows that the increase in single parent households has been the major contributing factor in the rise of violence and drug use in the United States.

Barbara Dafore Whitehead writes in the April issue of Atlantic, "In the mid-1960s Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then an assistant secretary of labor, was denounced as a racist for calling attention to the relationship between the prevalence of black single-mother families and the lower socioeconomic standing of black children."

This response is all too common from the African-American leadership. The threat of being labeled a racist detracts from the debate over the very root of these social problems, especially the violence.

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