What our citizens and neighborhoods want is good arrests and prosecution of those key perpetrators of violence and disruption among us ("Don't return to failed crime-fighting strategy," Sept. 22). That means deployment of "feet on the street" so that police officers know our neighborhoods well enough to help prevent crime and restore safety.

This proactive approach requires a systemic change that assigns enough dedicated officers to visibly patrol our neighborhoods and "stay put" long enough to know who we are, why we matter and who is disrupting our security. And the time needed to make key arrests that stick.

It will take a stable corps of neighborhood officers and a departmental policy shift to effect the neighborhood safety required. Such a shift requires more officers per district and incentives to stem the current tide of attrition which robs us of officers experienced enough to know how to police effectively and still fit enough to give chase.

No one goes into policing to get rich. But our officers do require the morale of being part of a positive team effort, the satisfaction of making a positive difference for neighborhoods and the guarantee of decent support upon injury or retirement. They didn't sign-up for desk jobs downtown, and they rarely go elsewhere based on higher salaries alone.

Reordering priorities to prevent crime is such common sense that it's radical. But so is the goal of attracting 10,000 new families in 10 years. They both are connected. "Neighborhoods First" is what counts in growing Baltimore City.

Mary Pat Clarke, Baltimore

The writer, a Democrat, represents the 14th District on the Baltimore City Council.