JOHN FRITZE, BALTIMORE SUN - Large swaths of Baltimore could be
declared emergency areas subject to heightened police enforcement -
including a lockdown of streets - under a city councilman's proposal
that aims to slow the city's climbing homicide count. The legislation -
which met with a lukewarm response from Mayor Sheila Dixon's
administration yesterday, and which others likened to martial law -
would allow police to close liquor stores and bars, limit the number of
people on city sidewalks and halt traffic in areas declared "public
safety act zones." It comes as the number of homicides in Baltimore
reached 108, up from 98 at the same time last year. . .
In addition to closing businesses in the zones, the bill would permit
police to limit the number of people who could gather on sidewalks, in
streets or in other outdoor areas. It would prohibit the sale and
possession of weapons, though Curran acknowledged that weapons used by
criminals are almost always already obtained illegally. Zones could be
established solely by the mayor, initially for a two weeks, with the
option to renew indefinitely.
Provisions of the bill are identical to a law in Philadelphia that
recently gained attention when a mayoral candidate and former city
councilman proposed relying more aggressively on the code. That
candidate, Michael Nutter, won the Democratic nomination for mayor
Tuesday. . .
Philadelphia's law allows the city to impose a curfew in the emergency
zones, but Curran said he removed that provision from his bill because
it seemed too strict.