The future of the Baltimore police force comes in the form of a 4-foot-4, 80-pound tough guy who likes to watch "Real TV."
Just give Antoine H. McCoy a few more years.
Dreams of heroes in blue stirred to life yesterday for the sixth-grader as he spent the day cruising the streets of Baltimore with an alumnus of his school, Maj. Barry W. Powell, commander of Western District.
"This is the funnest day of my life," crowed the 11-year-old, one of about 200 pupils from West Baltimore's William H. Lemmel Middle School who got a glimpse of workaday life at 17 government agencies and businesses participating in the debut of Workplace Mentoring Day, a citywide initiative.
"The goal is to help students make informed decisions about career goals and decisions," said Linda Stewart, executive director of Baltimore Mentoring Partnership, the nonprofit organization that sponsored the event.
Antoine always thought about becoming a police officer. After yesterday, he was convinced.
"I'm going to become a policeman," he vowed.
Different point of view
The day began under the stern gaze of Col. Alvin A. Winkler, who briefed Antoine and 18 other youngsters shortly before 01000 hours in the Tactical Section conference room of police headquarters.
"We want to give you an opportunity to see police work from a different perspective," Winkler boomed.
What followed was a gallery of gunshots, police bikes and other cool cop stuff that kept Antoine mesmerized from the moment he slipped in the front seat of Powell's Dodge Intrepid and sped off to Western District.
"I was interested in being a police officer as a young child," the 45-year-old Powell told his young charge.
"Me, too," Antoine said, trying on the major's blue police cap.
"So how are you doing in school?"
"Excellent," Antoine answered.
"Tell me what that means."
Antoine confessed: Straight A's.
Powell liked this kid. He did not like, however, the "stragglers" lingering on a street corner. Lowering his car window, he waved off a couple of boys.
"Let's go," he said. They did.
Antoine was more impressed on their arrival at the station house. Officers saluted the major and called him "Sir." Powell, a Glock 17 semiautomatic 9 mm gun on his right hip, put his arm around Antoine and showed him around the office.
"This is where I work, I sit here and do my administrative work," the major said like a proud father. "We talk about crime on the street and what we need to do."
"I'd love to be in charge," Antoine said.
He watched an off-duty police officer play pool in the roll call room. He leapt behind Powell while an officer shot at a target in the basement firing range. At 10: 33 a.m., he entered his first police cruiser.
Powell played the siren for him, instructed him on the use of the police radio and told him to get a good job, a nice home, to get married, raise kids.
"School is the key to your success," he said. "It's easy to be weak. It's tough to be strong. Always be strong."
On the beat
Down they went, along North Fulton Avenue, West North Avenue, North Carey Street, and North Gilmor Street, through pockets of vacant rowhouses, salvage operations, past idle folks on stoops, and graffiti that read: "Life goes on."
Returning to the station, Antoine climbed aboard a police motorcycle. He punched in information in the Police Department's computerized database. Then he saw the plaques on the wall, honoring officers killed in the line of duty.
He would be afraid to work the streets, he acknowledged, but he would wear a bulletproof vest.
As they headed back to police headquarters, Powell predicted: "What I have become, he can become."
Pub Date: 4/30/98