There has long been a consensus inside and outside the Baltimore Police Department that it needed a shakeup. That's why Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke brought Thomas C. Frazier here as police commissioner. And that's just what Mr. Frazier is doing. He said he wanted fewer officers manning desks and more patrolling the streets. He said there were too many officers who have been doing the same thing for too long, barring others from getting necessary experience. One way to accomplish both goals is to strip out whole layers of command bureaucracy, leaving money and slots for bread-and-butter police work.
Mr. Frazier came to Baltimore knowing he has to produce. Large parts of the city are poisoned by the drug culture. Someone is murdered almost every day. Too often they are children and other innocent bystanders. Drug-peddling punks control whole neighborhoods, whose law-abiding residents fear to leave their homes or let their children play too close to windows. Other neighborhoods that were until recently sanctuaries for the middle class are invaded by thugs who beat, rob and wantonly shoot victims. Once in a while they hit a citizen so exemplary that the murder is front-page news, but the harsh fact is that peaceful citizens all over the city live in fear. Mr. Frazier knows his mandate is to reduce violent crime, and quickly.