Former Baltimore cop: 'The Wire' was dead-on

David Simon's article "No Apologies for 'The Wire,'" (Jan. 24) is right on point. As a former Baltimore police officer for 11 years, I can attest to the fact that much of what appears in the HBO series "The Wire" is a very accurate depiction of reality both on the street and within the Baltimore Police Department.

The practice of downgrading major crime statistics for the purpose of showing a decrease in crime goes back to the 1970s and has come under fire numerous times over the years. District commanders are put under enormous pressure to reduce crime in their respective areas of responsibility. The reasons for this are both political and economic.

In one episode of "The Wire" entitled "Amsterdam," the Western District commander, reacting to pressure to reduce major crime in the district, forces most drug dealers into a several block area of West Baltimore where they are allowed to sell their drugs under the watchful eye of police. This resulted in a drastic decrease in violent crime in the Western District. This also resulted in the firing of the district commander when word of this leaked out.

While I do not recommend this type of drastic action, I think it is time that police and local leaders begin thinking outside the box to come up with better ways of dealing with the drug problem and violent crime in our communities. Former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke was vilified for suggesting that drug use should be legalized. Perhaps it is time to give Mayor Schmoke's idea a try.

After all, the worst that could happen is a continuation of the carnage we see on a daily basis in our inner cities. Perhaps things might even improve and the violent crime rate might go down. Perhaps there would even be more money for education and drug treatment, since less would be spent on ineffective strategies for combating violent crime.

Bill Countess, Abingdon

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