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Police expand special enforcement zones to curb violence

Residents say abandoned houses and neglect attract criminals

mayor and batts

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Anthony Batts talk to reporters on East 28th Street today.

Photo by: Mark Reutter

At a corner of Northeast Baltimore where two young men were killed in the space of four months, Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts today announced a new initiative to expand “special enforcement zones” from four to 17 zones citywide.

Batts would not specify where the new zones are located – or how police will conduct their special enforcement – except to say that large numbers of officers will participate. The zones, he said, are based on empirical evidence of the number of repeat offenders, probationers and parolees are in a particular neighborhood.

Batts said most police districts will have one new zone, but some districts will have two zones, and plainclothes as well as uniformed officers will patrol and gather intelligence.

The location of today’s news conference, at Hugo Avenue and East 28th Street, is in one of the existing four zones.

Batts said the surrounding neighborhood (Coldstream Homestead Montebello or CHUM) had seen a 25% reduction in violent crime last month compared to January a year ago, and a 11% decrease in property crime, which he credited to zone enforcement.

However, he agreed that intensive policing did not save the lives of Kevin Everette Green, a rapper known as “Kev tha President” who was killed at the corner last September 24, nor 16-year-old Lavar Crawford, who was gunned down on January 25.

“If residents and citizens come out off of their porches,” Batts said, “and I’ve spent a lot of time here shaking hands of residents that stand behind me. When they come off of their porches and get engaged, that’s going to be the success for us as a city.”

Blight is the Real Problem, Says Resident

Several residents who watched the news conference from across the street said the neighborhood has been beset by outsiders who “come here to do their business.”

One resident, who said he’s been a local homeowner for 16 years, called the neighborhood “a dump” and, pointing to abandoned rowhouses littered with broken boards and trash, said the neighborhood’s real problem is “blight.”

“We got to do something about this mess and get better houses for people to want to be here,” he said.

Abandoned houses on Huge Road at the site of two homicides in the last few months. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

Abandoned houses on Hugo Avenue only yards away from two homicides in the last few months. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

Nodding in agreement, another resident said that housing is the number one issue. He added that it was police pressure that pushed criminals from other neighborhoods into CHUM.

“We all grew up here together” he said. “This was like a family here. But no more. We don’t know who these people are.”

Both men asked not to be identified.

“What Are We Supposed to Do,” Mayor Asks

After Batts’ presentation, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was asked if the expansion of zone enforcement was “one more initiative where we end up with the same results. ”

The mayor replied, “There’s not too much I can do and what the police commissioner can do that’s not going to get detractors. It’s just the nature of the business. . . For those who say this is just another thing, OK, what are we supposed to do? Just wash our hands and say, ‘Let it be what it is?’ I’m going to continue to fight. And I’m going to work with everybody who wants to make our city safer.”

She continued:

“It’s in the nature of what we do that we get criticized. And I don’t mind that. But if it could be constructive. It’s not like they’re giving another suggestion. There’s no other strategy that has worked better for Baltimore than focusing on violent offenders.

“That’s what got the homicide rate down to the lowest it has been in decades. Now we have to enhance it and make sure we are keeping pace with the changes that criminals are making. They aren’t doing what they did two years ago. They change constantly, and we have to change constantly and constantly enhance what we do.”

The mayor then added, “If some constructive suggestions come along with ‘this sounds like the same thing,’ please pass them along.”

A man cleans up the front  yards of an abandoned property on Fenwick Avenue a block from today's crime news conference. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

A man cleans up the front yards of an abandoned property on Fenwick Avenue a block from today’s crime news conference. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

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  • Paul Gardner

    There’s a lot of reasons why crime happens where it does, and police tactics and blight surely influence that, but they aren’t WHY crime happens. If not there it’ll just be somewhere else. I’m sure that doesn’t matter to people who live in the most affected communities, but it should matter if you’re the mayor and police commissioner of the entire city.

    They can make as many tweaks and minor changes to police tactics as they want, but Batts and SRB just don’t have any idea how to reduce crime to a level the people of this city deserve, and worse than that they don’t have the courage to admit that the problem is bigger than either of them and that real change will require a far larger, far more encompassing Plan.

    • Vincent Vizachero

      If the police and the mayor “don’t have any idea” on how best to reduce crime, who does? Paul Gardner?

      • Paul Gardner

        Maybe, maybe not. I’ve got ideas. But unlike Batts and SRB I’m willing to admit that police can be terrific at responding to crime but terrible at preventing it, and that any real change begins and ends with bringing more opportunity to the people in Baltimore that need it the most, not targeting bad guys with guns or gunshot detection technology or whatever other gimmicks they roll out this year.

        They cling to the premise that we’re just a few minor crime strategy tweaks away from significantly lowering crime and until they stop with that nonsense nothing is ever going to change.

        • Vincent Vizachero

          More opportunity, huh? So the police should stop fighting crime and prorogued opportnuties instead? That’s a great plan.

          • River Mud

            Due to a thing called “the bill of rights,” American police forces generally do not “fight” crime or prevent it. They chase crime and criminals once crimes have been committed, hoping to prevent existing criminals from committing MORE crimes by capturing and prosecuting them for the crimes they already committed…past tense. Take an extreme example – the FBI. They had thick files on the Boston Marathon bombers, and even detained the one guy at one point. They were monitoring their movements and communications (loosely). Their “crime fighting” didn’t stop the terrorists from downloading instructions on bomb building, or from buying illegal guns on the black market, or from trying to steal guns from the cop they shot. Or, of course, the bombing. No, with all that information in-hand, all the FBI could do was “try to catch them quickly” after they committed an act of terrorism in the middle of a huge city in broad daylight. Wake up, brother, this is what policework is in America. In a city like this (where in some years, 1 out of every 7 citizens is arrested!!!!) you can’t fight or police the bad guys as fast as the bad guys can train their own replacements. But you can, in fact, train young men and women to be good people in spite of what they see out their front door.

          • GOPRO

            GLAD I LEFT BALTIMORE YEARS AGO, WORST CITY IN THE WORLD.

          • Vincent Vizachero

            Perhaps Baltimore got the better end of that deal?

      • Exoduster

        I can assure you that the Batts and the Mayor have a plan. It chiefly involves taking credit when things work well, and delegating blame and responsibility when they don’t. Its a common trope among executives these days.

    • Sarah Fox

      Well said.

    • Dbaums

      The purpose is geographical deterrence. If you make it more difficult to engage in criminal activity in neighborhood x (more police presence, cameras, these special enforcement zones, etc.), it disturbs the usual business of the dealer, who then has to go elsewhere. If you then repeat this pattern in various neighborhoods over time, it makes it more and more difficult to run drug gangs in specific neighborhoods, making those enterprises less profitable and therefore less appealing to run and/or work for (corner boys won’t sling smack if they’re not getting paid). Does crime move? Sure. But it’s making it more difficult to maintain and less profitable that eventually decreases its prevalance.
      That’s just the theory behind this. Will it work here? I don’t know.

  • Sean Tully

    How about making the entire city a “special enforcement zone?”

    • River Mud

      More rules will definitely work. It’s already: illegal to brandish a weapon (even a BB gun), illegal to conceal a weapon, illegal to discharge a weapon, illegal to threaten or intimidate someone with a weapon, illegal to quickly purchase handguns, illegal to purchase any assault rifle, illegal to openly carry a weapon on a city street or city property, illegal to carry a loaded weapon in a vehicle, illegal to carry an unlocked weapon in a vehicle, illegal to fire a gun from a moving vehicle, illegal to maim or murder….. I mean, gosh golly, if we only had *one more rule* then probably all the murders would stop. So much for working on causative factors.

      • Matthew Riesner

        Well the city has not yet searched everyone’s house for guns…so I guess they still see there is room for improvement

        • River Mud

          They could collect every gun in this City and the number would be replaced in six months.

      • ushanellore

        Democracy

        This is a country of myriad rules
        and little enforcement,
        a country of numerous fools
        on thrones–the chiefs –
        and wise men and women–
        too few– the Indians–
        who bemoan– the numerous fools
        on thrones–
        The chiefs defy that sticks and stones
        won’t break their hardy bones
        and the Indians groan because
        at the ballot box they are known
        to be stymied by one venal fool
        after another venal fool….

        Usha Nellore

  • Matthew Riesner

    So now the police presence is going to be taken away from somewhere else… meaning criminals are going to expand their territory and what was a safe neighborhood will turn into a hotspot for criminal activity. Don’t believe me…ask folks in Waverly

  • BmoreFree

    Opportunity is the thing. No one grows up saying, “damn, I really want to stand on the corner and sell, this seems like a great career.” Without an increased focus on engagement, mentoring and youth development coupled with economic policy reform (i.e. property tax rates and small business assistance) no amount of police presence will help. To quote an authority, Princess Leia, “the more you tighten your grip the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”

    • davethesuave

      “To quote an authority, Princess Leia…”

      Is this the same woman who needed an assault team every morning to braid and bun her hairs? She wore that toga-thing for a reason; by the time her hair was done, there was no time to get dressed.
      I get your point though; at least she had a concealed-carry permit. NEXT!

    • Dbaums

      If you’re a kid growing up in a bad neighborhood in east/west Baltimore (or any other city with extreme poverty), that’s exactly what you grow up thinking. Every success story where a corner kid grows up and does change their life for the better, turning away from dealing and choosing some better path, they all say the same thing — as a kid, they idolized that drug dealer, their mentors were the dealers and they wanted to be exactly like them. As small children, they didn’t know any better.

      • BmoreFree

        Perhaps its time to find better mentors….

        • Dbaums

          Couldn’t agree more!!

      • Aaron Mirenzi

        legalization would remove the drug dealer as a profitable position. not many bootleggers nowadays…..

        • ushanellore

          Not really–there is a flourishing underground market for cigarettes that are legal. Legality will come within limits. It won’t be limitless–it will be for medical reasons, and it will be for so many grams and no more, also it will be illegal for minors.

          Where illegality will beset the legality will be when the drug pushers start targeting more and more minors and also when users start carrying pounds of the substance under the delusion legality means laissez faire.

          It will never be laissez faire–not even in Amsterdam are legal drugs a free for all or a free fall. Society continues to maintain the pretense of illegality and shows a frowning face to the users because society has been backed into a corner. IV drugs are also a public health hazard and a big medical expense with the spread of Hep C and AIDS. Clean needle programs, while successful, still are not a 100 % preventive because those who will play with fire will do so anyway.

          Besides Hep C spreads when people snort, passing the snuff of cocaine from hand to hand, not just through needles and there is no preventive for that other then behavior modification. Behavior modification for hardened addicts is just as hard as giving up the drugs.

          By being focused on the violence alone people forget the public health hazards these drugs pose. The hypocrisy of keeping drugs illegal is a result of “damned if you do and damned if you don’t”. It’s the age old dilemma–by giving kids contraceptives are we asking them to have sex? By getting them the shingles vaccine are we encouraging promiscuity? By legalizing drugs are we telling them it’s OK to do drugs?

          Society in general, except for hardened conservatives, has fallen on the side of the argument that kids will do these things anyway and therefore it’s best to protect them with the vaccine and the contraceptives. With drugs, especially the hard drugs we are still ambivalent. We are revolted and distressed by the needle users and we don’t want our minor children to fall into the hands of the rapacious drug pushers who will go after the minors exclusively when drugs become legal for adults. Not that they are not doing so already but when the adult market is removed en mass then they will look for another market and the children’s market seems ripe for plucking.

          Legal drugs will continue to carry the stigma of illegality–the police will continue to be on the tails of the drug pushers, the drug pushers will continue to exist promising cheaper, more potent drugs for the shoppers and silk roads–on line drug markets– will proliferate for many cryptocurrency users. Little will change except the number of arrests made for pot use–and that in and of itself is a good thing for many a young life has been ruined with felony convictions for carrying with intent to distribute pot. Yes, that will be the one good thing about legalizing marijuana.

          No society is happy about legalizing the hard drugs. The most liberal societies have their problems with that one. Where would we sell legal heroin? Does a first time user just walk into a store and ask for it? Would there be a limit on amounts sold any given time? Could a user then walk into multiple stores and stack up on heroin, die dosing massively and would multiple heroin store owners become liable? Should it be sold with a pack of needles? If someone dies after buying it in some store legally then would the legal seller be prosecuted for selling it? Would anyone like a legal heroin store next to their home? Ditto for cocaine and crack. Not too many people would stick their necks out for the legal cocaine, heroin, crack, PCP and ecstasy trade, hence the drug pusher will remain in demand.

          There are liability questions and risks in legalization. And where would the junkies go to inject themselves? Do we assign them a legal park to congregate? Do we tell them we are making it easier for them to get these drugs because the drug pusher will be out of their lives–which he won’t–they can be fast and free with their needles and they don’t need to worry about societal taboos and societal norms? Do we forget rehab because we would be giving a legal nod to hard drugs–where does rehab fit into that scenario?

          These are troubling questions that the “legalize all drugs” crowd has not thought through.

  • davethesuave

    blah, blah, blah. No mention of unfit parent[s]. No mention of the certainty of reducing the black market for drugs, and the accompanying turf-war murders by legalizing all drugs. No mention of the laced-with-fentanyl heroin overdoses, and the solving of that horrible problem [see my previous sentence].

    Just keep the perps moving from place to place. Hmm, where have I heard of that scheme before? Oh, I remember, that’s what the Catholic Church has been doing for God-knows how many decades [centuries?]. Topic for another day, I suppose. Just like the [non]discussion of drug legalization. My point? The answer is staring us right in the face. But, unlike the [non]discussion concerning people who are not fit to raise children, drug legalization is an idea whose time is well past overdue. It would drop the homie-cide rate immediately, drop the overdose rate immediately, infuse the empty city coffers immediately.

    The truth is the legalizing of illicit drugs is coming, and the sooner the better, for everyone.

    • Dbaums

      Let’s legalize all prostitution as well. Child labor laws? Forget them, kids should be able to work if their parents want them to, no matter the age. In fact, let’s get rid of robbery/burglary as a crime, and just arm citizens instead. Then criminals will think twice about who to rob. No need for traffic laws either, they just crowd district courts. Let’s keep going…why have consumer safety laws? People should be able to inspect everthing they purchase to discover if it’s defective. If they don’t, it’s their fault if they and their families are killed or injured in a car crash because the brakes didn’t work. Let’s keep going – why have a criminal justice system at all? If someone is accused of murder, let’s just shoot them and get it over with.

      • GXWalsh

        In your sarcasm, you forgot to separate out those things that cause harm to others or just one’s self.

        • Dbaums

          I respect your opinion, but drugs destroy families which, in turn, destroy communities. What we do to ourselves effects others. While alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, and marijuana are all drugs, their casual use can be self-controlled, and in moderate amounts (yes, even tobacco), don’t equate to abuse. Hardcore drugs like cocaine, heroin, other opiates, etc., change and can permanently alter your brain chemistry. They quite literally fry your brain. You don’t casually use heroin, you abuse it. Any effort to make it more difficult to obtain hardcore drugs, is positive public policy and they should remain illegal not because of the harm done to oneself (you can get high on completely legal products like drain cleaner and freon if you so choose), but because of the devastating effects of these substances on society.

        • ushanellore

          But drugs cause harm to others and to self–so does drink and drive. Drugs like PCP have put people in the violent mode. There are genetic variations in the metabolism and the reaction to various drugs. Drugs can ruin entire families, even if only one among the family members is an addict. That’s how societies get dismembered–one person at a time. Not that I am against the legalization of drugs. That’s not a panacea and it can bring with it a new set of problems. But it will take a big bite out of the drug trade and perhaps lead to a suspension of the turf wars that kill people in the city. I think what Dbaums bemoans is how criminals lead us to tolerate more and more intolerable situations because we are stumped and we think if we tolerate what we wouldn’t normally tolerate then we can neutralize the criminals. A CATCH 22 that one.

          • GXWalsh

            My answer was an overly simplistic reply to Dbaum’s slippery slope. You (and Dbaum below) point out that harming oneself may not end with oneself. The libertarian in me says “Feel free to swing your cane wherever you want as long as you don’t hit someone else or their property” or as some other guy said “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

          • ushanellore

            But the other man’s nose could be your father’s in the next bedroom. Those who smoke spice or dope light up their sticks right where their parents sit and also threaten their parents with weapons. Such parents do call the cops and get rid of their children but not without a heartbreak. Apparently libertarian theology does not trump parental affection and tough love does not come without a toll on parents– that toll being guilt, remorse and self blame.

      • davethesuave

        @Dbaums,

        I infer you prefer drugs stay illegal? How’s that working out?
        Do you know anyone who uses heroin?

        If so, you apparently prefer the status quo for them, namely buying from violent dealers, and having NO idea what they’re buying. Is that correct?

        Legalize prostitution? You bet. I am for that. Know why?

        Because then at least the workers would be protected. I suppose you would prefer not to have to think about it, which is comforting to you, not so much for the (mostly) women getting the crap beat out of them, or worse, by psychopaths.

        Most of the rest of your note makes no sense. You seem to think legalizing something that is not only readily available, but is more available than ever, is somehow reverting back to the Wild West days. Seems to me we’ve already got that in Baltimore.
        You facetiously talk about arming the citizens, then the criminals will think twice about robbing people, yet you don’t see the irony of your point. If LAW-ABIDING citizens were allowed to protect themselves, IF they chose to do so (and I posit that many of them would), then yes, criminals would have to hesitate, wouldn’t they?

        Or are you going to spin that last comment into “well then the criminals would shoot everyone they come into contact with to prevent possibly being shot at themselves”?

        Seriously, Bomb, do some thinking, and have some empathy for someone not so fortunate as yourself, and ask yourself this: do we, as an supposedly enlightened society, keep on doing the same things that have been proven, without any Reasonable doubt, to be complete & utter failures?

        Or do we just go on & on,
        ad infintum, and ad naseum too?

        • Dbaums

          I’m a criminologist who works with felons in re-entry programs. Yes, I “do some thinking” on these very issues every day. And yes, I know many individuals recovering from heroin addiction, and not one of them has ever advocated for the legalization of the thing that destroyed their lives.

          • Aaron Mirenzi

            Heroin might as well already be legal though. I mean I follow your line of reasoning here and in other posts, but I really think Baltimore is the worst example of failed drug policy. If the entire would was howard county, I would totally agree with you.

            I’ve been offered heroin multiple times in the last two years. I could easily buy it, especially if I was a desperate addict. Its not much harder than walking to the liquor store. Unfortunately, the cat might already be out of the bag.

          • Dbaums

            We agree that what’s going on now isn’t working, and the whole “war on drugs” concept doesn’t work. Never has, never will. But if we made heroin legal, wouldn’t it be easier to get? Can you (the general you, not personal you) really see a regulated heroin industry playing out? Wouldn’t it’s use be expanded, not reduced? Wouldn’t addiction rates skyrocket? Back to my previous post, it’s not like heroin has any redeeming qualities, so what good came come of it being more available than it already is? I agree that North Avenue and Columbia are night and day, I just have trouble seeing how legalizing hard drugs would be good policy, for anyone.

          • Aaron Mirenzi

            well one redeeming quality of heroin is that its a multimillion dollar industry in Baltimore city. in theory, you could tax the hell out of it, while keeping it significantly lower prices than street prices. the user would also have a guarantee of the drug’s contents and potency. no risk of violence during the drug transaction. these are all good things for the user. not to mention if tax money could be earmarked for rehab programs, that would also help the user.

            one crux in my line of thinking is that it mainly applies to baltimore city. If Baltimore county doesn’t have a heroin problem, then I think that opening stores there could make it worse. In Baltimore, the stores already exist. So I think bringing the already existing market into the light of day is actually beneficial. tricky subject I will admit and I’m glad to continue any type of debate.

          • ushanellore

            Heroin is a killer and a potent addiction. You cannot, in the name of saving users from tainted drugs and in the name of the excuse “it’s already there, heck, we’re only making it open” market it for reducing price, danger and increasing revenue or whatever.

            That it already exists is no reason to make its existence legal. How do you know who the users are and who to sell it to? What about first time users– high schoolers just out who want to experiment? How will the users with a need be certified?

            It is also not true that Baltimore alone is a heroin capital in Maryland. Harford County has a thriving market. When and if heroin is legalized, you talk as though the underground markets will emerge above the ground and take over where they left off, smoothly moving from illegal to legal. That is wishful thinking.

            I see no doctor prescribing this to users for medical reasons. I see no way that users can just walk into shops and get it for a lower price. The price will remain high. Tainted products will continue to be sold because I don’t see the FDA getting into the business of regulating the purity of legal heroin. It will be an all around disaster. You are not even talking about this being a controlled dangerous substance under the jurisdiction of the DEA.

            Yes, we have Oxycontin and Oxycodone etc, horrible prescribed addictions. Then you have injectable morphine for terminal illnesses. You have suboxone a terrible addiction for opiate addiction. I see your cynicism about heroin–that keeping it illegal is no more than a pretense, when we have all these other potent drugs prescribed by docs to patients for pain or they are given to fight addictions.

            But already there is a control and pressure laid on docs to restrict these prescriptions. The DEA and the FBI have prosecuted several errant docs recently. The business of prescribing opiates has become risky for physicians. I don’t see one, I know, sticking his or her neck for the job. Heroin produces a natural distaste and revulsion in the medical community. It will never be considered life saving to prescribe it. Walk in and get it as and when you want to? No way is that scenario palatable.

            Oxycodone and Oxycontin are also street drugs. When they are sold with impunity to folks and the buyers die the sellers and the prescribers are prosecuted vigorously. Michael Jackson’s doc was prosecuted for using Fentanyl. Are these drugs legal? Yes. But are they considered dangerous? Yes. We can increase the armamentarium of our controlled dangerous substances to include heroin but I don’t see it becoming the drug of choice for intractable pain do you? Barring that what are we legalizing it for?

            You are an awfully slippery slope when you want to legalize heroin and legality does not ensure purity or price reduction. A lot of things are legal and we are gouged for it.

          • Aaron Mirenzi

            Usha, I’m sorry to say that I disagree with you on most of what you just said.

            In your first paragraph, you mention my arguement: “reducing price, danger and increasing revenue or whatever”. You seem to be dismissing these points. Wether or not heroin is a killer has no effect on whether legalization would raise tax revenue. Or promote safe transactions, or defund the gangs. Please take these reasons seriously.

            You ask “How do you know who the users are and who to sell it to? What about first time users– high schoolers just out who want to experiment?”

            My response is that in a black market scenario, you have no idea who is using, and at what amount. Drug dealers don’t check ID and deny people under 21. They sell to anybody. In fact, they give out free samples to get people hooked. High schoolers can easily experiment in present day Baltimore. Moreover in a legal system, the government can track the user patterns of an individual. You show up to the heroin store, show ID, then they put your purchase into the system. You can track which people are addicts, which people are using for the first time. There can be an actually understanding of patterns of use. Then when an addict commits a crime, there is real data to suggest that the individual should be sentenced to a drug rehab program vs. jail.

            You say: “When and if heroin is legalized, you talk as though the underground markets will emerge above the ground and take over where they left off, smoothly moving from illegal to legal. That is wishful thinking.”
            My response: I don’t think it will be a smooth transition. In fact it might be a rough transition That being said, where are the gangs in Baltimore thriving off bootleg liquor? They existed during the prohibition era.

            You argue that the price of product will remain high? What makes you think that? Heroin is often diluted by the distributors and sold at the same price. Meaning addicts have to return to the dealers twice as much and spend twice as much money. Legal medical marijuana in California is cheap.

            I see no reason why a federal agency couldn’t regulate other drugs like they do cigarettes and alcohol.

            I agree that heroin will never be prescribed by doctors (again) and that it has no medical use. I agree that trying it repeatedly is a huge mistake.

            I hope you view this post as “respectful disagreement”.

            I’m not throwing all my chips in with legalizing heroin. It could be a bad idea in the end. But there are some very compelling reasons to do it. Its just a complicated problem. I think America needs to start with legalizing weed. See where that goes. Then we ask the heroin question. Legalization needs to go in slow step by step increments.

          • ushanellore

            You have given me a lot of food for thought–it is puzzling that methadone and oxycontin and oxycodone are legal ( they are controlled) but there is so much stigma about heroin. My feeling is that heroin will never become the same as oxycontin or oxycodone–I think it is considered the most potent and lethal of them all. Also the govt. will not put itself in the precarious position of allowing shops to sell them to first time users. With legalization will come lawsuits when users die–mothers and fathers will sue the above the ground store owners for aiding and abetting their sons and daughters. This would be a very precarious legal business.

          • Aaron Mirenzi

            your right, it would be such a change in the status quo legally speaking that its almost impossible to imagine what it would be like. alot of pro-legalization folks tend to focus on how the current system doesn’t work while offering little explanation of how a legal drug system WOULD work. this is why I think legalization of marijuana should be looked at as a model, maybe 50 years later we can talk about if that model should be extended to other drugs.

          • davethesuave

            it’s hard to advocate for anything when you’re laying in an alley, needle in arm, dead, because you didn’t know you were shooting fentanyl.

          • ushanellore

            Some die and some live through it all, surprisingly. The ones who manage to rahab and live, the ones who manage to exorcize themselves can indeed advocate or not advocate and I myself know that they do not advocate for legalization of these hard drugs. They prefer more walls and barriers because they are in remission and thinking more clearly they see the futility of legalization of the hard drugs. I do have something on this for Aaron Mirenzi down below somewhere.

          • Dbaums

            Ha! I love that someone voted this “down.” As if there’s anything in this post to vote “down” about.

  • asteroid_B612

    I remember former mayor Sheila Dixon doing a crime walk with one of the Patterson Park groups. She walked for about an hour, talked to community members, and generally engaged with people. The current mayor seems more at home in Panama or on Meet the Press. I couldn’t find any pictures of her walking at night with community groups in her “photo gallery” http://photos.baltimorecity.gov/ .

    As we learned a couple of years ago, having a narcissistic mayor who is more concerned about job-seeking and self-promotion then with the day-to-day affairs of the City is a recipe for regression.

    • ushanellore

      Did she bring her gift cards with her when she walked? That would be more important to the state’s attorneys. With elected officials we do not choose them for their virtues, we choose them for who will do us the least harm. Grading them for their vices from mild to intense, we pick those who’ll pickle us the least. Standards not too high for political jobs. Sheila Dixon would be considered a narcissist, that walk notwithstanding.

  • greatestcity9

    It’s disturbingly ironic that “Hamsterdam” actually seems like a ‘good’ idea at the moment.

    • Andrew

      I thought Baltimore was one giant Hamsterdam.

  • Aaron Mirenzi

    Anything to incentive police officers to live in the districts where they work would be a good thing I would imagine.

    • Andrew

      There should be a tax on ALL city employees who don’t live in the city so that we aren’t just financing the tax base of other counties.

  • Andrew

    Hard drugs are very harmful to society.That is why they should be illegal, guys. It’s a very difficult thing for the “me generation” and other similar narcissists to accept; The good of society has to come before the individual’s . In many cases having strong rights for individuals, such as privacy, is in societies best interest. Becoming a useless pile of addicted s&%t is a drain on society and shouldn’t be tolerated, and certainly shouldn’t be someone’s right. A good right for taxpayers would be to not have to pay for all these losers rehab.

  • ushanellore

    Exoduster, it seems to me you want to be protected from SRB more than from the criminals–that gave me a good laugh because you are actually right about who we need to be protected from–let’s vote, the politicians or the criminals or can we tell the difference? And please, I speak on behalf of the tomato when I say, don’t compare SRB’s face to that of a tomato. The goodly tomato may go on a strike and wither all over the country on vines and we may have no tomatoes to throw at the nincompoops of this world.

  • cwals99

    Do you know that almost all of the Subprime Mortgage Loan fraud settlement has been spent in East Baltimore tearing down houses and almost none of it going to victims of this fraud or to rebuilding the communities hit with the goal of lifting the boats of those in the neighborhoods? The subprime mortgage fraud targeted the working class in Baltimore to get them out of the city and predatory city policies have led to low-income homeowners losing their homes. All of this creates this rise in crime and violence as people are made desperate to survive.

    Everyone needs a home in order to have a stable life. Using those subprime mortgage funds to rehab these blighted houses would cost less than building new homes, it would allow people to stay in their neighborhood and feel part of the solution, and it would have made now condemned communties healthy again. BUILDING FOR ALL OF BALTIMORE’S CITIZENS WILL ALLOW FOR STABILITY. IF A DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION SETS AS A GOAL TO GET MOST CITIZENS OUT OF COMMUNITIES….IT WILL BE A LONG AND PAINFUL TRANSITION. Becoming a police state is not the answer in a democracy.

    If people look at the goal of Baltimore Development you will see it is not good for most people. They want Baltimore’s center to mirror Manhattan and we all know how exclusive Manhattan is. Not even upper-middle class can afford to live there. If you think this is hyperbole, think again. As rich investment firms gobble and are given large tracts of city center property….they will decide who lives there with rents and property values. Remington is said to see its property taxes jump from hundreds to thousands with just this development plan. In this case it is white working-class that are targeted for displacement.

    So, please shout out that a plan that has as its goal building an affluent city center is not in anyone’s interest. As gentrification occurs as it will, making sure people displaced are limited and those that are treated fairly will make for success without feeling like a third world country.

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  • March 24, 2014

    • Last Thursday, I sent an email to the Mayor’s Office of Communications asking for some basic responsiveness: Please return our emailed queries and phone calls about stories. Please send us the same routine emails you send to other members of the media. Lately, more so than usual, they haven’t been. It’s a shame because, even [...]

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