THE KICK-OFF this week of the Maryland Police Corps is a victory for Maryland and Baltimore City -- but most of all for the idea that young Americans can still be inspired to give something back to their country. Three decades ago, Peace Corps volunteers ventured forth to help poor people in developing countries. In the 1990s, there are daunting challenges at home. Beginning this week, recent college graduates are being invited to apply for a four-year commitment to police work in Baltimore.
The Police Corps is a national effort to attract the best and brightest college students into law enforcement. But Maryland has managed to capture the lion's share of the $10 million in initial funding, in large part because public officials here, such as Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Baltimore Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier, have long been pushing to make the Police Corps a reality.
As a result, some 120 recent college graduates will enter training over the next several months in preparation for four years as a patrol officer in Baltimore City. In return for their commitment, they will receive $30,000 for college loan repayments, in addition to salary and benefits. In future years, the corps will work much like ROTC programs, recruiting young people who receive scholarships in exchange for service commitments.
As police officers, they will confront some of the toughest problems facing the country, but the hope is that they will bring to their work a dedication to the highest ideals of public service -- integrity, honesty and a concern for communities and American values. Some of these officers will stay on after fulfilling their four-year commitment. Commissioner Frazier sees this group as a pool that can provide a new generation of law enforcement leadership.
But many others will go on to other careers -- taking with them a valuable understanding of the challenges police are up against. Either way, police departments win. So do communities. And so does the idea that law and order is something for which all citizens must take responsibility. Police officers can't do it alone.
Pub Date: 1/29/97