Residents pitch in, clean up city And police stations open doors for public to visit, help officers

April 06, 1997|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

From Pigtown to Pinehurst, a volunteer spirit swept Baltimore yesterday -- and its streets, porches and alleys -- as 40 neighborhood organizations assisted by city public works crews marked the start of an annual cleanup campaign with a new name.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke spoke of a connection between "crime and grime" in a morning ceremony on a West Baltimore parking lot to launch one neighborhood's effort in the Community Pitch-In Program.

That theme seemed to carry over to a citywide Police Department open house also held yesterday.

All nine city police districts opened their doors to recruit members for the "Blue Crew," a new neighborhood volunteer program. Participants would donate time for tasks ranging from serving as neighborhood block captains to clerical tasks in police stations.

Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier, who visited each district station house, said the timing of the cleanup and open house was "serendipitous," noting that both were inspired by the concept of solving problems "block by block."

"Physical environment is as important as good law enforcement," Frazier said at the Northern District station, where cinnamon cake was served to visitors. "If you take it block by block, pretty soon we're talking about a neighborhood."

The Department of Public Works estimated that more than 2,000 city residents took part in the cleanup, filling its trucks with 220 tons of litter. The city also supplied shovels, bags and gloves, but the people did the rest of the work. "There's always a faithful few," said Romina Campbell, 43, president of the Pinehurst neighborhood organization. She and others, including 74-year-old Lucile Brown, tackled the 20-bag task of cleaning up a vacant filling station lot at Bentalou Street and Edmondson Avenue.

The point of the Pitch-In Program is to encourage "every community in the city to participate throughout the spring, summer and fall," meaning all 800 of its neighborhood organizations, said Kurt Kocher, a public works spokesman.

At the Northern open house, Charles Village resident Mary Larson dropped by to thank officers for being "generally more visible" in her neighborhood. In addition to the cake, she received a free car-theft deterrent club and a sticker that allows police to stop and search her car if it is being driven between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

On another side of town, about 100 people visited the Southern District station, and three new volunteers signed up for its Police Athletic League youth supervision program.

"I saw some new faces," said the district's commander, Maj. Kathleen Patek, "so that was good."

Pub Date: 4/06/97

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