Pubdate: Thu, 21 Oct 1999
Source: Daily Record and Sunday Mail (UK)
Copyright: 1999 Daily Record and Sunday Mail Ltd.
Contact:  Anderston Quay, Glasgow, Scotland, G3 8DA


A top New York drugbuster told Scots police how to drive heroin
traffickers out of business yesterday - as a 16-year-old girl became
Strathclyde's 114th drugs victim this year.

The body of Michelle Kearney was found in a house in Glasgow's
Maryhill area just hours before Police Commissioner Howard Safir
outlined strategies to hunt down dealers.

Michelle, of Springburn, Glasgow, is thought to have OD'd on heroin.
And yesterday Safir vowed that the supply of deadly drugs could be cut
off using his Model Block programme, which puts dealers out of
business by reclaiming drug dens for the community.

Mr Safir said New York officers identified drug dealers, arrested them
and set up cordons around their drug dens for months afterwards. CCTV
was installed and welfare agencies and social workers were then
brought in to help people reclaim their neighbourhood.

Mr Safir said: "Glasgow is much smaller city but I think drug
trafficking can be approached in the same way. Heroin is your problem,
crack cocaine is our problem.

"We have to approach drug trafficking like a business - that means you
have to be in for the long haul.

"It means not just one isolated raid but monitoring the area over a
period of months. "The Model Block programme identify gangs, dealers
and apartments where dealers operate, clearing them out and keeping
them out so communities can reclaim them. We also identified 7,000
outdoor drug taking and dealing areas in New York.

"A few weeks ago a reporter went looking for these areas and was
unable to find one. "You have to make the drug dealers' business
environment as hostile as possible, then the dealer will move away
from the area." Mr Safir was speaking in a year which has seen 114
people die as a result of drugs in Strathclyde alone -- one victim
being Hugh McCartney, son of cabinet minister Ian McCartney.

Strathclyde has also seen murders almost double from 25 to 46 so far
this year. Mr Safir is credited with cleaning up New York's image as
the murder capital of the world. In his first three years in office he
has cut the annual 2000 murder toll in half and reduced serious crime
by 32 per cent. And he believes many of the tough measures could
translate to Scotland. He has flooded some New York communities with
officers and increased his force's numbers by a third to 40,000.

But he denied that New York had become a police state. Mr Safir said:
"When you look at opinion polls on policing in New York you find 75 to
80 per cent approve of what we are doing. In New York, any time you
get more than 50 per cent of the people to like what you are doing,
you are doing pretty well."

He also praised Strathclyde's Police's Operation Spotlight which
cracked down on minor crime.

He said: "If you let people get away with minor crimes you are in
effect saying it is okay and the next step is they will commit major
crime. "You also find that some people who commit minor crimes commit
major crimes or have knowledge of them. For instance last year we
arrested a young man for jumping over a subway turnstile.

"He was fingerprinted and as a result a year later we arrested him for
two murders." Mr Safir was speaking ahead of the annual James Stuart
Lecture today where he will join high ranking Scottish police
including Strathclyde's chief constable John Orr.

And he said he would also be trying to learn during his brief visit to
the UK. He said: "We are so far behind Britain when it comes to the
use of DNA. I am trying to get similar programmes in the United States."

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