To recruit city police officers: Free housing

Here's some ideas building on Dan Rodricks’ column on Baltimore's police officer shortage (“Baltimore’s need for more police officers, measured in square miles,” Jan. 4) and needed new incentives to aid in recruitment:

First, the city invests in itself and renovates 400 vacant row house properties clustered in groups of 100 in four neighborhoods across Baltimore. Next, the city offers 400 new city police recruits the opportunity to move into them. The police officers will only pay the taxes and maintenance on the homes. Each year, they remain a city police employee and live in the home they earn 5 percent of the equity of the house. Finally, after 20 years, they would own the home outright.

Obviously, there are a few issues to work out, but the side benefits include increasing the city population, increasing tax rolls and building relationships in the community between officers as and residents as they live together as neighbors. Grouping 100 officers in homes within in a few block radius in each quadrant should alleviate any officer concerns of their own off-duty safety. In fact, you'd think a lot of residents (or new residents) would clamor to move to those safe blocks and help revitalize them.

Gregg Nass, Baltimore

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