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On Game Days, Cops In The Spirit

CRIME BEAT

September 13, 2009|By PETER HERMANN

Maybe creating a drinking zone, as authorities do for block parties and festivals, would clear up any confusion over where and when people can consume alcohol. And it might free the cops to better enforce the law where it matters most: on streets where people live.

But it also could create problems for police by making the area too large and more difficult to control (we don't want the Preakness infield repeated here), so maybe restricting drinking to scattered lots and simply turning a blind eye to people crossing the street with a beer bottle is best for everyone.

Jack Baker heads the South Baltimore Police Community Relations Council and is a bridge between cops and residents. He also lives in Otterbein, another neighborhood that on Sundays in the fall is merely an extension of the football stadium. He knows that residents complain about public drinking because "the drinkers urinate all over the neighborhood" and that patrons sometimes sneak out of bars with plastic cups of booze.

Just the same, a day when the Ravens play in Baltimore has a special feel. It is a day when residents can be proud of their city and share a common goal. It is a day when taps in South Baltimore work overtime and when restaurant cash registers overflow.

It is a day, Jack Baker said, when the rules "should be relaxed just a little bit."

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