Barricades set up to deter drug traffic Police employ tactic in many neighborhoods

October 12, 1998|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A tactic in which police barricade streets to shut down drug dealing -- first tried last month in West Baltimore -- is spreading to other neighborhoods, this time on the city's southeast side.

Starting Thursday and ending early Saturday, police closed off 60 square blocks at a time in Highlandtown, McElderry Park and Ellwood Park and diverted traffic from residential streets.

"It is an effort to restore quality of life in our neighborhoods," said Lt. George Klein, of the Southeastern District. "People were able to sit on their steps and walk through the neighborhood, something they haven't been able to do for a long time."

City police first closed streets last month on Westwood Avenue, giving residents there a temporary respite from drug dealing and shootings. Klein said his district will use the tactic routinely.

Officers rotated through the three neighborhoods, closing large sections off in each. They interviewed 95 people, handed out 59 traffic tickets, raided three houses for drugs and made 16 arrests, including nine on drug distribution charges and one for assault.

But even more important, Klein said, they got leads that might result in arrests in three burglaries. They also teamed with Baltimore County police and arrested 36 suspected prostitutes and customers around Patterson Park and Dundalk Avenue.

Klein said that during the operation, no one called 911 in the areas closed off to cars and no serious crimes were reported.

In an unrelated operation Thursday and Friday in Northwest Baltimore, police blanketed the streets in Pimlico and made 102 arrests, most dealing with drugs, said Maj. Carl Brown, the Northwestern District commander.

Brown said the area was targeted because of a high number of shootings and homicides tied to the drug trade this year. He said officers learned during the operation the name of a suspect in a homicide that occurred there two months ago.

Pub Date: 10/12/98

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