Glendening plan provides 'community policing' courses Classes aim to encourage new ways of cutting crime

November 14, 1995|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,SUN STAFF

The Glendening administration said yesterday it wants police in Maryland to be less reactive and become more involved in community efforts to reduce crime.

With Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend taking the lead, the administration announced plans to offer one- and two-day "community policing" courses to local and state police officers, county sheriffs and community activists. The courses, to begin in February, will be held in Pikesville and later at sites around the state.

"Community policing is not public relations. It is not social work," Mrs. Townsend told an audience of about 250 law enforcement and community leaders gathered in Annapolis. "Community policing is an attitude, a philosophy, a new way of doing business.

"It is a shift from reactive, 911 policing to pro-active problem-solving," she said. "It is a shift from random patrol to targeted patrol. It is a shift from centralized to local decision-making, where street officers and their commanders -- along with neighborhood residents -- are encouraged to find solutions that fit the unique problems on their beats."

Sgt. Regis L. Phelan, a 10-year veteran of the Baltimore police force, was more plain-spoken in his description of the approach. "People think it is baby-kissing. Well, it is a balance between that and butt-kicking," he said.

Officials said the cost of the "community policing academy" will be covered, in part, by a $45,000 grant from the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention and a $4,000 federal grant.

The program is voluntary, although it was clear by yesterday's well-choreographed announcement that community policing is a priority of the administration.

In addition to Mrs. Townsend, the gathering attracted state Public Safety Secretary Bishop L. Robinson, State Police Superintendent David B. Mitchell, Baltimore Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier, and dozens of police chiefs, sheriffs, midlevel officers and beat officers from virtually every jurisdiction in the state.

"It's not even worth trying if the [local] chief of police and the citizens in the community aren't invested in it," said Adam Gelb, an aide to Mrs. Townsend. "We're not forcing this down anybody's throats. It's a real state-local partnership. If they want it, we're here to help."

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