East Baltimore churches sign on as officers' partners to stop crime

May 10, 1999|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Baltimore police commanders have begun urging officers on the city's east side to abandon their patrol cars and stroll through neighborhoods with residents to enlist their help to fight crime.

Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier told church and community leaders Friday that whenever patrol officers are not busy with emergency calls, they should be walking, preferably with one of them.

"There are times of day when officers are not in a car," Frazier said from the front steps of Zion Baptist Church on North Caroline Street. "They should team up with somebody, walk up and down the street and say hello. We are part of the community."

The initiative is part of a new partnership between police and 85 churches in East Baltimore that sponsor several anti-crime groups whose members walk through neighborhoods with two-way radios.

The Rev. Melvin B. Tuggle II, president of Clergy United for Renewal of East Baltimore, said nothing works better to prevent crime than a foot patrolman "so people can see the police."

Crime has dropped in Baltimore for three straight years. But the city, with 314 homicides last year, was rated the fourth-deadliest in the nation per capita.

"I don't want to be on the news at the end of the year with Baltimore being No. 4 in homicide," said Sam Redd, director of People United to Live in a Safe Environment (PULSE). "I want Baltimore to look like Boston or New York, where police and clergy work together to bring crime down."

The city is off to a promising start. As of yesterday, 82 homicides had been reported since Jan. 1, down from 110 at the same time last year, about a 25 percent drop.

Pub Date: 5/10/99

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