GIVE THE police force and the police commissioner credit for Baltimore's dramatic decrease in crime so far this year. But also applaud the people of this city who have forged a new commitment to work with law enforcement and other agencies to rid their neighborhoods of both criminals and the environments that produce crime.
Violent crime is down nearly 20 percent for the first three months of 1997, and property crime is 14 percent lower. Those numbers are significant. Part of the credit for the decline must go to neighborhood watch groups that make drug dealers know they are unwelcome, volunteers who run after-school programs that keep children out of trouble and citizens who clean up their blocks, get to know each other and send a message to criminals that people aren't going to stand idly by while crooks make their neighbors victims.
Crime is dropping because of efforts such as the federally funded Comprehensive Communities Program. In neighborhoods such as Boyd Booth, Fayette Street Outreach, New Southwest, Sandtown-Winchester, Middle East, Carrollton Ridge and Harlem Park, this program is providing the means for neighborhood residents to use nuisance-abatement laws to evict drug-dealing tenants, the money to board up vacant houses and the time to develop long-term plans for community improvements.
Crime is dropping because of police officers like Will Narango, who is using a tried and true method that never should have fallen out of fashion: Walking his beat and getting to know the people. He is the "sheriff" of Carrollton Ridge and New Southwest. He's the law, and people appreciate him for being there when they have a problem. And Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier deserves credit for, among other things, hiring civilian workers and moving 330 officers from desk jobs to street patrol.
Baltimore lagged behind the rest of the nation in lower crime rates. But, finally, even homicides are down in the city, with 75 reported as of Wednesday compared with 89 at the same time a year ago. The next stepstic to her efforts.
Radio ownership decides programs
Frederik G. van der Wens' April 10 letter about "barbarians" ruling Baltimore's airwaves, while not entirely incorrect, completely misses the point in placing the blame on Baltimore's radio and TV stations.
Mr. van der Wens says Baltimore's broadcast outlets should focus on exhaustive coverage of international events as well as cultural information on the latest books, musical events and scientific discoveries such as is broadcast over European short-wave radio.
What Mr. van der Wens fails to realize is that most of the short-wave stations he listens to are government-owned and therefore do not have to worry about earning a profit.
However, in the United States, governments tend to spend money on building stadiums for professional athletic teams rather than on radio and TV stations, so commercial broadcasters air much "drivel" such as sports or entertainment gossip in order to turn a profit.
The freedom of the press exists to those who own the press, or in this case, the transmitter, antenna and tower.
In the case of government-owned broadcast media, the government has the authority to determine the programming.
However, with commercial broadcasting, programming is determined by attracting an audience that appeals to the widest possible audience in order to attract the greatest number of advertisers.
If there is enough of a demand for exhaustive coverage of international events and cultural information on the latest books, musical events and scientific discoveries, rest assured that some broadcast outlet would air it and make money with it.
Mr. van der Wens calls for a change from the "drivel" he hears on Baltimore's broadcast stations. Short of changing American culture, the only alternative is government ownership of radio and television stations -- and that is a scary idea, indeed.
Frankly, I'd much rather listen to Orioles gossip than official government propaganda.
The writer is music director for radio station WXCY in Havre de Grace.
Jerusalem is not international
William Pfaff's April 15 column cites the possibility of "some kind of international status or protection" for Jerusalem.
The same kind of international protection that failed to materialize in 1948 when Jerusalem, designated an "international zone," came under Arab siege and Israel was left to fight alone?
Thank you, no. Been there, done that.
Jerusalem is Israel's. What earthly right has Mr. Pfaff or anyone else to suggest otherwise? Was it their blood that was spilled in Jerusalem's defense?
Arabs may be piqued that they lost out on the holy city they twice tried to demolish. But hey, that's life. Sic biscuitus disintegrat (that's how the cookie crumbles). Wage war, you pay the consequences.
Robinson feat exceeded baseball
My profound respect for the freedom of speech and press normally compels me to ignore most of the flawed opinions of your columnist, Gregory Kane.
However, his attack, on African Americans for celebrating the historic feat of Jackie Robinson (April 13, "Why celebrate an egregious insult") must not be allowed to pass unchallenged. Those of us who lived through Jackie Robinson's noble conquest don't have to rely on the filtered views of Mark Ribowsky, or anyone else.
Ironically, Mr. Kane doesn't understand why Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig were insulated from the torrent of insults Jackie faced daily. In fact, they and their colleagues were idols, as well as protectors of the system that tormented Robinson.
Many of us were eyewitnesses to, and even victims of, the vicious racism that made the Jackie Robinson experiment not only necessary, but mandatory. It was about much more than a game.
George W. Collins
Pub Date: 4/21/97