Baltimore police set up shop in high-crime area Rosemont, Walbrook get substation after series of raids

February 10, 1996|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Baltimore police yesterday moved in on a 65-square block section of West Baltimore besieged by drugs and guns, culminating a series of raids over the past two months aimed at returning streets to citizens.

Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier opened a substation at 1910 N. Longwood St., which he said was in the "epicenter" of illegal activity.

"We strongly believe that you ought to feel safe to walk down the sidewalk and be able to go shopping and do the kinds of things you need to do in your everyday life without being afraid," Mr. Frazier said.

For the past two months, the Southwestern Police District has targeted communities bordered by Gwynns Falls Parkway, Presstman Street, Edgewood Street and Braddish Avenue.

Police have raided 10 suspected drug houses, arrested 195 people -- most on drug and gun charges -- and seized 20 handguns and $40,000 worth of cocaine and heroin.

Last year in that area, three homicides, 22 shootings, 143 assaults and 218 robberies were reported.

Police said that several patrol cars had been vandalized and officers assaulted in the area.

Community leaders, most of them women who have raised families in Rosemont and Walbrook, came to a news conference yesterday morning to say "thank you" and promise to continue fighting for their neighborhoods.

"Together we can all make a difference," said Georgine Edgerton, 69, president of the Mount Holly Improvement Association. "We aren't backing off.

This is a beautiful community, and we are here because we care.

"We have a lot of children," Ms. Edgerton said. "And we have to make it safe."

Fourth District Councilwoman Agnes B. Welch said that police action has allowed residents "to be able to walk to church, to be able to walk around the corner to their neighbors and to be able to just stand and have a conversation on the way to a store."

Mr. Frazier, who has ordered his officers to target guns instead of petty drug arrests, said at the news conference that officers have seized 414 weapons throughout Baltimore since Jan. 1, many more than the 274 taken off the street last year at this date.

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