Rowdies mar New Year's Eve

December 30, 1997|By Robin Miller

EVERY NEW Year's Eve I watch Baltimore City become a temporary law-free zone where suburban yahoos act in ways they wouldn't dare behave in White Marsh or Columbia or Severna Park.

Tomorrow night, in Fells Point, thousands of spoiled 20-somethings will all try to park in the few parking spaces directly in front of the bars on Broadway and get frustrated when they can't. Some will yell obscenities. Others will get into fights.

Parking parade

Then, plenty of others will drive around so long looking for a parking space that when they do find one on a lot, they'll have to promptly relieve themselves on the first brick wall they see. They rightly gamble that there's no police around issuing tickets for public urination.

Downtown, after midnight, hundreds of young drunks will try to hail taxis along Pratt and Lombard streets by jumping out in front of them. A lot of suburban college kids seem to believe that this behavior, which would get them ticketed or arrested in Towson, is perfectly acceptable when they're trying to hail a cab in Baltimore on New Year's Eve.

I'll be driving a stretch limousine in the city on charter tomorrow night. At least half a dozen times between midnight and 5 a.m. groups of drunks will either try to open my limousine's (locked) rear doors uninvited or bang on the windows and threaten to beat me up if I don't take them where they want to go. They wouldn't try such stunts back home in Glen Burnie or Catonsville, because they'd probably get arrested. But in Baltimore City on New Year's Eve, they figure there's no effective law enforcement.

Unfortunately, they're right. City cops are so busy answering ''shots fired'' calls in neighborhoods where the New Year is traditionally greeted by the Southern tradition of firing guns at the sky that they don't have much energy or time left over to deal with vandalism, assaults, drunken driving or other such crimes.

By the time the gunplay dies down, around 2 or 3 a.m., city police are so worn out and swamped with paperwork that you could probably weave your car up the street, obviously drunk, and heave a bag of empty beer bottles out of the window in front of a cop without getting stopped.

But I don't blame Baltimore cops for doing little or nothing in the pre-dawn hours of New Year's Day. They know that if they just hold tight, the party-goers will all go home to the suburbs in a few hours and the city will get back to normal.

Besides, why should city cops care what goes on in Baltimore on New Year's Eve? As soon as their shifts end, most of them will follow the party-goers out of the city, to places like Parkville and Joppa, where hardly anyone ever breaks the law.

Robin Miller is a free-lance writer and limousine driver.

Pub Date: 12/30/97

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