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Here's how we can make Baltimore much safer

I read with great surprise Dan Rodricks’ recent column calling for everything to be done to stop the shootings (“What do we have to do to stop the killings? Everything,” May 7). Among possible things to be done are restoration of plane surveillance and the creation of the Johns Hopkins Police Department. Are these included in anything? What about shutting down the open air drug markets, most notably Wilkens Avenue, Penn North, and Lexington Market? Those neighborhoods will not be made safe until the drug markets are closed permanently and with the understating that reopening them will involve long terms in Jessup.

Drug users must be deterred as well. Especially in South Baltimore, one sees men and women in the obvious thrall of drug dependence. Arrest is sadly one possible way to break the cycle of addiction. The demand for drugs ensures the supply and the disorder associated with drug dealing ensures the violence.

Do we not owe safety to those who live in the city, especially in areas most affected by drugs? Are we not to be judged for our failure to deliver it? There's lots of affordable housing in Baltimore, there's little safe affordable housing. The difference between the two is accepted and enforced norms of behavior.

We can teach these standards of behavior in the schools. In the suburbs, anyone who decked a teacher was harshly punished, if not immediately expelled, and was certainly never seen again in the same school. We do no favors to kids by imposing lower standards of behavior in the city.

Bad news: Baltimore now has a murder rate on par with Honduras. Many who can leave are now leaving. If the city does not protect its families and workers, the only industry left will be the port and misery management. The hard truth is that stopping the shootings includes actions we don't like. We will have to set expectations and enforce them in ways that may be harsh. Some measure of privacy and control will be lost. Anything is possible, but anything comes with costs that aren't measured in dollars. Will we pay?

Mike Williams

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