Two days after Baltimore's police commissioner abruptly resigned, Mayor Martin O'Malley ventured into public yesterday as citizens voiced their concerns about crime and how officers patrol their communities.
Residents attending a Census 2000 rally at Mondawmin Mall said they are anxious to find out more about a still-secret policing plan that sparked Ronald L. Daniel's resignation. But many interviewed said they were more worried about violence than about the police chief's departure.
"If a man wants to quit his job, fine," said Shirley Generette. "All I'm concerned about is getting these drugs and these boys selling drugs off the street."
Added Roslyn Chester of Northwood: "I've been mugged. I had someone put a gun to my head. Whatever they were doing before wasn't working. I'm a prisoner in my own home at night."
But others want O'Malley to spell out exactly how he intends to implement a more assertive style of policing without trampling on people's rights, and why Daniel seemed so concerned about it that he left after only 57 days in office.
"I don't understand it," said Theola Parks, who works at a Mondawmin store. "There has to be more to it than the public knows. We need more explanation."
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, whose 7th Congressional District covers most of West Baltimore, urged O'Malley to make his intentions public, saying the mayor's actions will have a great impact.
"What is in this plan that is so obnoxious that a person who finally got the job of his lifetime leaves after three months?" the congressman said. "What is the plan? I want to see it."
After meeting privately with O'Malley near the central plaza of the mall, Cummings remained cautious, withholding praise or condemnation.
O'Malley said his blueprint for reducing Baltimore's homicide rate will be out this week.
"I was out a lot this morning by myself," the mayor said. "I'm getting pretty supportive comments. I have yet to have anyone come up to me and say anything critical. I'm just very anxious to get the plan published and out there."
O'Malley strategies are based on an assertive New York style of policing that has been credited with cutting that city's homicide rate to 30-year lows, and attacked by critics who say it sanctions abuse and brutality.
Daniel, reached yesterday at his home, refused to say why he resigned. He has not offered a public explanation other than a brief statement saying he could not endorse a plan he did not write.
O'Malley said their disagreements had nothing to do with the substance of the plan, but rather on the pace and details of its implementation.
"Ron had 50 operational concerns for every operational change," O'Malley said.
The mayor said Friday that too many homicides have been committed this year.
Hours before the census rally, about 2: 20 a.m., an unidentified man was found shot to death on a sidewalk on Laurens Street, about a half-mile south of Mondawmin Mall. He was the 67th homicide victim in the city this year.