The heroes we need

August 25, 1994

We'll take a story like that of state police Sgt. George Douglass every day. He's the burly state trooper who talked a frantic teen-age mother through cardiopulmonary resuscitation over the phone last Monday and helped save her infant's life.

A radio operator at the state police telecommunication center told the trooper that she had a hysterical woman on the line whose daughter was lifeless. Sergeant Douglass, a 19-year XTC veteran, took the call, calmed the young mother and helped Louann Lowe keep her 1-year-old Crystal alive until an ambulance arrived.

The tale also held resuscitative qualities for the entire Baltimore region, where the crime news of 1994 hasn't been just a litany of lawbreakers run amok, but also of law enforcers gone bad.

Last winter's state police raid on the city's pornographic Block district was a total bust, with undercover officers spending money on booze, drugs and gifts to strippers like drunken sailors. City Police Commissioner Thomas Frazier has also had his hands full with allegations of police brutality against suspects who were mortally wounded while being taken into custody. That's not even mentioning the pre-baseball strike transgressions by certain police with nicknames like "Mad Dog" against folks selling tickets outside Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

It is understandable that the legions of good people who work in law enforcement are feeling besieged by this barrage of unflattering news, in much the same way good teachers felt last year in the aftermath of sex scandals involving a few rotten apples in Anne Arundel and Baltimore county schools. Meanwhile, an insecure public living in a fragile world feels that if it can't trust its police, its teachers -- not to mention its clergy -- it can't trust anyone.

Like 17-year-old Louann Lowe of Highlandtown, we need George Douglasses to hold on to every once in a while.

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