Letter FromrnBaltimorernby Ron SmithrnCrime and Racial PoliticsrnA recent series of articles in the BaltimorernSun painted a gloomy (yet persuasive)rnpicture of “the decline of the BaltimorernCity Police Force.” But then, why shouldrnpolice forces be expected to maintainrnhigh standards when all institutions arernfalling in what’s left of America? ThernSun stories basically explained how affirmativernaction lowers hiring standards,rnhow the “ethnic cleansing” of whites inrnthe power structure of what has becomerna dominantly black city results in lacklusterrnmanagement (though the paperrndidn’t put it that way), and how therncriminal injustice system in Mencken’srnhometown is just as corrupt and helplessrnas it is elsewhere across the land.rnThese facts come as no surprise tornanyone who’s been paying attention tornthe destruction of our culture, but theyrnstill amaze when laid out in the contextrnof a newspaper investigation. The cityrnhas a new police commissioner, a coprnnamed Tom Frazier, hired from the SanrnJose, California, department and quiternthe controversial choice because he isrnwhite. The mayor, Kurt Schmoke, whornis black, calmly explained that he wasrnlooking for the best person to undertakernthe responsibilities of the position andrnthat race shouldn’t be a factor in the selectionrnprocess. Well and good, onernwould think, but that wasn’t the reactionrnof some prominent members of thern”community.” A delegation of ministersrnfrom black churches thought itrnappropriate to call on the mayor and expressrndisappointment that racial solidarityrnwasn’t maintained in picking a newrnTop Cop. Mr. Frazier replaces a blackrnman, Edward Woods, famed equally forrnhis political clout and for his unfortunaterninability to express himself coherently.rnAll hands seem to wish the new commissionerrnwell, but if we are to believernthe Sun series, he has his work cut out forrnhim.rnMeanwhile, the mayor, who becamernnationally known a few years ago for hisrnargument that we might be better offrnlegalizing drugs than continuing to fightrna tragically expensive, losing war againstrntheir use, has been AWOL in the fightrnagainst violent street crime, fear of whichrnis emptying the city of all who havernmeans enough to flee. The mayor is foreverrnsaying that the crime problem inrnBaltimore is a matter of perception, asrnthough if we could only clear our lensesrnwe would see there really isn’t much tornworry about. One can understand Mr.rnSchmoke’s reluctance to acknowledgernthe extent of blatant criminality in hisrncity, because the people committingrncrimes are almost always black, and nowrnthat City Hall is controlled by blackrnpoliticians it’s much more difficult torncry that racism on the part of whitesrnmakes for selective law enforcement.rnLogically, that just doesn’t wash anyrnlonger.rnDuring a radio show that allows ordinaryrnfolks to voice their concerns to thernmayor, a caller said that he had beenrndriving into Baltimore with his familyrnlast Easter Sunday to visit the city’s showcase,rnthe Inner Harbor, when his car wasrncaught up in a swarm of young blacks,rnsome of whom he said exposed themselves,rnpounded on the car, and shoutedrnthreatening things. The man said thatrnafter extricating himself and his wife andrnchildren from the nightmarish scene, hernmade a vow never again to set foot in therncity. The mayor’s response was that itrnwas a shame that this fellow had such arnpoor perception of Baltimore. The trulyrnamazing thing, seems to me, would bernif he did not.rnWhen publicly discussing the problemsrnof America’s cities one must alwaysrntake care to use euphemisms: for example,rnto say “urban problems” whenrnmeaning black and, in some cases, Hispanicrncrime. We haven’t even begun torngrapple with some of the harder factsrnabout America’s decay. There is no discussionrnin public forums of somethingrnmost people acknowledge in private conversation:rnthat violent street crime has anrnundeniable racial component. A friendrnof mine, a 25-year veteran of the BaltimorernCity Police Department, runs arnshift out of a very high crime precinct,rnone teeming with the welfare underclass,rnboth black and white. If rampaging violentrncrime is a result primarily of thernwelfare culture, how can one explainrnaway his observation, based on long experience,rnthat the criminals his officersrndeal with are nearly all black. He saysrnthey have no significant problem withrncrime among destitute whites. Put thatrnin your sociological pipe and smoke it,rnHillary.rnA restaurant in Baltimore’s Little Italyrnthought it a good idea to fight its customers’rnworries over criminal assault andrnrobbery by hiring kids to work as valetrnparking attendants. At first they hiredrnsome white boys, but they themselvesrnbecame favored targets of the muggersrnfrom the housing projects across thernstreet, so now black kids park the cars,rnapparently with some immunity fromrntheir “gangsta” brothers.rnAs for me, I’ve joined the flight awayrnfrom the city and its suburbs and nowrnlive in a small town 36 miles north ofrn”Charm City,” as boosters dubbed it arnfew years ago. Racially, I have a cleanrnconscience, since several families in myrnnew neighborhood are blacks, Buppiesrn(Black Urban Professionals) who maderntheir choice of residence, I assume, forrnthe sairie reasons as everybody else, becausernthey want to raise their kids andrnlive their lives with a semblance of civility,rnsomething still possible in the hinterlands,rnwherein resides what little isrnleft of the America we knew and loved.rnRon Smith is a Baltimore talk-show host,rncommentator, and writer.rnLIBERALARTSrniiiKRiaAX.vrioNrnINDUS’I’RYrn.Vk-iiihcr.-. of Ihe “.lidcst proto.ssion”rn,iie iiowalk’iidiiig piTMiiuil dcvclopuicntrnworkshops in IMitictil, tlierntllicrl;iiids. rc|)urlt:tl the I’liropiiaiirnlasl Martli. ‘I’liat’s ri£;ht. tuxjkers.irfrnabit: to enroll in a anirsi; tli:i( coversrnlicilth, crisis niana£;cmc;nt. ,ind jobrnsjfisf.uHon. S;iys Hnjk Klcni Bctkin;rniii(i| the “rclaxiitioii ui(lijstrv”eiiiployiis’rninii(jii: “1 here are >T,(KJ(IrnvNonien workini; in the Diileli relaxationrniiidustrv. and iiianj sufter In mirnlow selt-estetiii. Wt want to helprnthem enjoi their work.”rnAUGUST 1994/41rnrnrn