Baltimore, Rotterdam agree to an officer-exchange program


Baltimore's police commissioner and the police chief of Rotterdam, the Netherlands' second-largest city, agreed yesterday to an officer-exchange program to help commanders battle the common problem of crime.

Five Baltimore police officers, who have not yet been selected, will spend a month in Rotterdam studying community policing, violent crime and illegal drug distribution. Rotterdam officers who come to Baltimore will examine the same issues.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier, who returned from Rotterdam last month, said he selected the city because it shares characteristics with Baltimore and its chief is making fTC changes similar to his own. Rotterdam is a port city with a 5,000-member police force that is being decentralized with a strong commitment to the concept of community policing.

Mr. Frazier, whose department has 3,100 officers for about 706,000 residents, said he wants his officers to learn new crime-fighting ideas, "bring these concepts back and utilize them here."

Rotterdam Police Chief Rob Hessing, whose city has about 590,000 residents, said he sees similar crime problems in Baltimore. He said departments all over the world complain of little money and limited resources, but there's not enough discussion "of our main mission: to reduce crime."

Chief Hessing said his city is seeing an upsurge in crime, particularly violent acts connected to the drug trade, but added that guns are not as readily available in the European city. "More people die in your city because of the possession of weapons," he said.

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