Limited Access Established For Troubled Urban Area

RESIDENTS of a crime-plagued neighborhood have to pass through a police checkpoint just to get home, but many say they don't mind, if it makes the streets safer.

Police cordoned off a four-block area of Lawrence, Mass., Monday and issued special passes to residents in a desperate attempt to stem drug dealing and other crimes in this city of 70,000 about 40 miles north of Boston.

"This is not an occupation army coming in and setting up a police state. This is part of community policing," Police Chief Allen W. Cole said.

Over the past 18 months, police had set up similar blockades, but none affected such a large area.

John Roberts, director of the Civil Liberties Union in Massachusetts, said his group would probably challenge the measure in court. "This is martial law without the federal troops," he said.

Police said the barricades will be in place up to 18 hours a day for an indefinite period.

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