Mayoral candidate O'Malley issues first half of platform

Treatment a priority in battling drugs, he says

August 12, 1999|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Mayoral candidate Martin O'Malley issued the first half of his campaign platform yesterday, a 39-page position paper on restoring public safety.

The criminal defense attorney and former state prosecutor promised to address what he called Baltimore's chief woe -- illicit drugs -- through a combination of police enforcement and drug treatment.

Standing outside the Clarence M. Mitchell Courthouse, O'Malley, surrounded by about 25 supporters, handed out the booklet.

O'Malley is calling for the implementation of the "zero tolerance" crime-fighting strategy that has been credited with reducing violent crime in cities such as New York and Cleveland.

The five-point plan includes clearing the city's clogged courts by giving police authority to issue citations for petty crimes; having prosecutors instead of police charge suspects; creating an arraignment court at the Central Booking and Intake Center; tracking crime with computers; and using existing mandatory penalties to prosecute repeat offenders.

O'Malley also discussed his plan to cut off the demand for drugs in the city through treatment. The eight-year councilman from Northeast Baltimore said the city needs to ensure the efficiency of its programs, use the threat of prison sentences to force criminals to get treatment, and expand hours of treatment centers to accommodate working addicts trying to stay clean.

O'Malley said expanded treatment could be partially paid for by raising court costs.

"We can't arrest our way out of it," O'Malley said. "And I have represented a number of people who are addicted to drugs and it took an arrest or maybe a subsequent arrest to coerce them to get help."

Mayoral rival Carl Stokes criticized O'Malley's plan, noting that as a criminal defense attorney, O'Malley has represented drug dealers. A recent review by The Sun of 102 cases handled by O'Malley showed that about one in five were related to guns or drugs.

Last night, O'Malley had a fund-raiser at Mick O'Shea's, a pub on Charles Street, where Kweisi Mfume, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, made an appearance.

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