Building drug-free neighborhoods How-to manual: Smart steps that any group can take to recapture its community.

August 19, 1996

IT'S EASY TO TELL a neighborhood that has been overrun by drug dealers. While these criminals casually go about their business as if it were the world's least dangerous profession, talking and laughing on the corner, good people doing their best to survive with legal jobs make their children play indoors out of fear.

Fear of a stray bullet fired by these nonchalant businessmen. Fear that their children might be attracted to the same trade.

The best way to keep either tragedy from happening is to get the drug dealers off the streets. But how?

The Baltimore Partnership for Drug Free Neighborhoods was created four years ago to help answer that question. During that period it has worked with numerous individuals and neighborhood associations fighting drug abuse in their communities.

As a result, the partnership has learned some tactics that any neighborhood can employ. It has compiled these ideas in a manual being distributed throughout Baltimore. The manual, called "Prevention Tools: Building Drug Free Neighborhoods," includes drug prevention strategies that can be used on a street-by-street, block-by-block basis.

Divided into two sections -- Prevention and Community Resources -- the manual comes with "How To" sheets that can be pulled out for advice about specific situations.

For example, No. 1 tells a neighborhood association how to organize as a non-profit agency that is eligible for grants; No. 12 details how to plan an anti-drug march through a community; No. 19 explains the type of observations that need to be made to describe a suspect to police.

This booklet is not the answer to preventing drug abuse and removing drug dealers, but it is a big part of the answer. People who live in vulnerable neighborhoods don't want them to turn into little police states where their civil liberties become casualties in the battle to identify and arrest drug criminals.

They have to fight, too, if they are to prevent that from happening. The Baltimore City partnership group has provided neighborhoods a useful tool to get them involved. All those responsible for the "Prevention Tools" manual deserve the city's thanks.

Pub Date: 8/19/96

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