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Residents welcome return of summer police patrols Residents welcome return of summer patrols


Faith Parker has seen enough to make sure her children stay close to home.

There was the time she passed drug dealers and felt afraid in her neighborhood; the time she had to slam up the window after two of them came running to her car; the time she heard gunfire from her back yard and saw a man shot.

Yesterday, the mother of four joined her neighbors at Annapolis Gardens, one of the city's 10 public housing communities, in welcoming back the police. Parents and children lined the street to wave at the men and women in blue walking by with a small parade of housing officials and television crews.

The occasion was the formal start of the summer police patrols, a popular program initiated three years ago by Harold S. Greene, executive director of the Annapolis Housing Authority.

Last summer, the first satellite police station was opened in Harbour House, Annapolis' largest public housing community, notorious at the time for open-air drug markets and violence. Nine officers from the citywide Community Oriented Police Squad (COPS) now are headquartered there and have helped shift control of the streets back to residents.

The officers will take turns walking beats in the public housing communities this summer. Greene, who believes in fighting drug dealers on their own turf, has budgeted about $25,000 from two federal grants for the patrols.

"The whole idea is to expand the presence from Harbour House to encompass the rest of the community," he said. "The drug problem is an ongoing problem. You have to stay on top of it."

With better coordination, police hope to arrest the dealers instead of simply chasing them from one community to the next, said Sgt. William Powell, who heads COPS.

Residents often mistrusted police in the past and wouldn't cooperate with anti-drug efforts because they feared the dealers would retaliate. But that's changing, Powell said. Some Harbour House residents have become regulars at the satellite station.

A mother of three who turned out to welcome the police yesterday said her only wish is "that they could stay all night."

But some residents were skeptical. Tiara Jones said she has no problems with her Annapolis Gardens neighbors, but figures outsiders who stir up trouble will succeed, even with police nearby.

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