Annapolis police yesterday opened a new substation in the Clay Street neighborhood, ending a month-long sweep by Maryland troopers to combat drugs and violence in the community and beginning a permanent police presence in the neighborhood.
"This endeavor is not a panacea for the ills that plague the community," cautioned Police Chief Joseph Johnson, "but it should signify that the Annapolis Police Department is out front and doing our part."
The chief spoke at a ceremony celebrating the opening of the building at Clay and West Washington streets.
The opening of the substation coincides with the end of a round-the-clock anti-crime operation by state police known as Operation People.
City officials asked state police for the help June 7. Since then, there have been roughly eight troopers, four times the number of city police available, in the neighborhood at most times, police said.
In the past month, state police have arrested four people, helped city police with eight other arrests and intervened in 48 other disputes or incidents, said state police 1st Sgt. Clarence Bell.
Sergeant Bell said the troopers tried to give city police more time to build community relations instead of them handling the day-to-day business of searches and arrests.
"When we're gone, we want the people who live here to feel they have a bond with local police," he said.
State police introduced the Operation People program in September 1993 in the Newtowne 20/Woodside Gardens neighborhood of Annapolis. Last July, they conducted the same kind of sweep in the Bywater community.
The substation is located in a building whose history illustrates the violence that has occurred in the neighborhood.
Once an apartment building owned by Stevensville developer Bruce H. Butterworth, it has been deserted since last year. Three people have been killed there since 1990.
Fourteen bullet holes pockmark the walls in one of the bottom floor rooms where Cpl. James Doran, a leader of the Annapolis Special Emergency Team, was shot and hit in the abdomen and left thigh during a drug raid in February 1993.
The two-room office will be open up to 20 hours a day and will serve as headquarters for two officers in the community-oriented police squad (COPS). City officials and police hope it will serve as a contact for community groups and bring officers closer to the neighborhood.
"It doesn't take a lot of time to find out who's playing down here, who the hustlers are," said 1st Officer Glenn Shorter, who is assigned to the substation. "Just by seeing us out here, I think we're already making a difference."
The station cost the city $15,000 for building renovations and the first year's rent. Its patrol will extend from the Arundel Center on Calvert Street to the Loews Annapolis Hotel on West Street, police said.