Church members crowding into a police station? At night?
That rare sight surfaced recently in west Baltimore as New Psalmist Baptist Church members celebrated the grand reopening of the Baltimore Police Department’s NW precinct’s front lobby. The station’s front doors have been off limits for some 15 years, hindering community interaction with the precinct.
Visitors were forced to enter through the back doors, often occupying the same space as prisoners, witnesses and victims. Bishop Walter S. Thomas Sr. of New Psalmist did a site visit of the police station and started asking questions about how the congregation could give back to the city.
Within four weeks, demolition and construction crews were able to transform the once unapproachable site into a welcoming entry point.
The unveiling of a newly constructed main entrance designates a new and hopefully long lasting partnership between the Baltimore Police and the faith based community, according to local residents.
Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts was on scene to celebrate the reopening of the entry point into the precinct. Contrary to the crowd’s excitement about his speech, the Commissioner received boos when he approached the podium and said, “Yes, I am the person who moved Major Delgado.”
Recently reassigned Major Johnny Delgado was half of the driving force behind the project. West Baltimore resident Will Hannah reflected on Major Delgado’s impact on the surrounding community, “Johnny Delgado has been working hard to gather donations from community support. This was totally his effort and the community is here today to show our appreciation for what he did.”
Delgado also adds that this renovation is about more than the recent violence in perspective, “This is not only just looking at crime reduction, this can now be a community center again. It’s a way for the community to interact within a friendly environment.”
In her remarks at the Mayor Rawlings-Blake said, “My hope is more faith leaders around the community will see the same needs and find ways to use their parishioners to work in partnership with the community so we can build the communities that we want.”