.DC. POLICE CHIEF Maurice Turner Jr. offers a new idea for citizen involvement in the war on drugs. He would arm 1,000 citizen "police reserve volunteers" and send them out to the streets to do battle. But this proposal fails to define the community's proper role in this necessary campaign. Adding an untrained armed brigade to a city racked by drug violence makes no sense.
City residents have an important part to play in dealing with the burgeoning drug problem. Thus far, many have handled it badly. For instance, several efforts have been made to open new drug treatment clinics, halfway houses and group homes for addicts. But supporters for these vital projects could not be found. Some citizens have fought every effort to locate such facilities near their homes. RAP Inc., one of the city's most successful drug rehabilitation programs, was forced to move to Maryland. RAP officials could not find a neighborhood in the city that was willing to harbor it.
Illegal drugs are being sold and used by more and more youths in this city. Those juveniles are also younger than ever. The inevitable result is that more people need to be treated for addiction. The city has funds to open three more drug treatment clinics this year. A fourth facility is planned for the short-term care needed to help addicts through the six-week wait they face to get into a city clinic. More of the same kind of neighborhood resistance to these projects protects no one. It simply means that there will be no successful attack on the number of desperate addicts on the streets.
City residents have another important role in respect to drug-related violence: cooperating, prudently, with the police. The strong inclination is to lock the doors, draw the shades and report nothing, but that attitude must be fought at all costs. Maintaining silence in the presence of drug deals and violence simply helps these crimes to continue. Residents don't need to be out there shooting. They do need to use their telephones and report everything to the police. If that is scary to do on one's own, it will be less so when neighbors join in and get organized. The police work should be left in the hands of real police officers.