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This article is about a location in Baltimore. You may be looking for an episode of the third season with the same name


Hamsterdam is a drug "free zone" in Baltimore, established by Major Howard Colvin.

Distressed by the rampant selling and use of narcotics in the Western District following the demolition of the high rise towers and without the approval of his superiors, Colvin enacts a radical plan to herd low and upper-level drug dealers into three locations around his district that he calls "free zones". Within the zones, drug dealers are permitted to sell their product to addicts free from any punishment or arrest. In the zones, drugs were essentially made legal; the police force supervising those areas would turn a blind eye to most of the activity. The most active zone is located on Vincent Street in a block of mostly vacant row houses and is overseen by Sergeant Carver.

Colvin's plan was meant to be a temporary action: he believed that all the corner dealers could be rounded up and contained in a short period of time if they were told they could sell their product with impunity. Colvin assured the police under his command that once dealers became comfortable in the free zones, they could move in, shut down the zones and arrest enough of the corner dealers to permanently cripple the drug trade in the city.

At first, the corner hoppers and lower-level drug dealers refused to cooperate. Colvin met privately with the higher-level dealers and convinced them to bring their younger soldiers to the zones. Those that didn't move there by a set deadline were rounded up and treated roughly on Colvin's orders. Complaining they had no customers to sell to when they arrived in the zones, the police began to round up addicts and transport them to the zones.

The plan seemingly works and the residents of the worst drug-addled Western neighborhoods enjoy the peace and prosperity in the absence of the corner dealers. However, there are societal problems that Colvin hadn't counted on: in the free zone, addicts begin to squat in the vacant homes to use the drugs they buy. Prostitutes enter the zones and ply their trade. Violent crime breaks out with rival gangs fighting for turf in the reduced territory and they rob each other for stash product and money. Fights break out that the police assigned to the zones can't handle. Colvin also discovers that an elderly woman is the last resident on a block. Attempts to convince her to move, especially to a much better neighborhood, are unsuccessful because the woman has a sentimental attachment to her home.

Colvin consults a former drug lord-turned minister, The Deacon, who points out all the problems the zones have generated that Colvin didn't anticipate. Most are related to public health, like high addicts laying in the streets and in the vacants, sharing of needles, prostitutes, sexually transmitted diseases being spread and violence. Social aid organizations move in to institute needle-exchanges and hand out condoms. Meal providers like the Salvation Army hand out food.

Eventually the situation degrades beyond the ability of Colvin and his units to control it. A low-level hopper is shot to death in the zone. Carver responds to the scene before the homicide detective arrives and tries to order Herc to help him move the body down the street and out of the zone. The ruse doesn't work and Colvin, angered with Carver, takes responsibility himself.

Disgusted, Herc places an anonymous call to the Baltimore Sun. When the reporter arrives, Colvin asks them to hold off on reporting the situation to the public until he can inform his superiors. At a Comstat hearing, Colvin presents solid evidence that his neighborhoods in the Western are peaceful and the residents are quite happy. When he shows how he was able to achieve the goal with his free zone plan, his superiors are furious. Colvin is reprimanded by Major Rawls and Commissioner Burrell and stripped of his command, forced to retire quietly, receiving no benefits. He is able to negotiate with them to keep the officers under his command free from blame and punishment. He also shares a stack of letters he received from residents and community and religious leaders praising the cleanup of their streets.

The Western District police move into the free zones in force, taking both dealers and addicts into custody. Several people are found dead in the vacant houses, among them is Johnny Weeks.

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