Baltimore mayor fires police commissioner

Anthony Batts

(AP) – The latest on the firing of Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts:

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4:45 p.m.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who appointed Anthony Batts as police commissioner in 2012, says he served that Maryland city “with distinction.” But the mayor, in speaking publicly about Batts’ firing at a news conference Wednesday afternoon, cited a spike in crime and a need for a leadership change.

Batts had more than three decades of experience in law enforcement, according to his biography on the Baltimore Police Department website. That included serving as chief of police in Long Beach, California, and Oakland, California.  He began his career in 1982 as an officer with the Long Beach department, working his way up to chief over a 20-year span.

Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis has been appointed as interim commissioner.  The shakeup comes 2 1/2 months after the city broke out into riots following the death of a man who was injured in police custody.
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4:38 p.m.
    
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has used a news conference to thank Anthony Batts for his service as police commissioner to her city.

Yet she has told a news conference Wednesday afternoon that “too many” continue to die on Baltimore streets as she spoke of her decision to fire the city’s top crime fighter.

She says her intent is to make Baltimore a safer place.  “We cannot continue to have the level of violence we’ve seen,” she added, noting that some progress has been made.

She added, “We need a change.”

Of the firing she says: “This was not an easy decision but it is one that is in the best interest of Baltimore. The people of Baltimore deserve better and we’re going to get better,” she said.

The mayor, earlier in the afternoon, announced Batts’ firing in a news release. The police commissioner’s departure comes 2 1/2 months after the city broke out into riots following the death of a man who was injured in police custody.
    
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4:05 p.m.
    
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says she has fired Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, 2 1/2 months after the city broke out into riots following the death of a man injured in police custody.

Rawlings-Blake announced her decision in a three-paragraph news release that also noted she has named Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis as interim commissioner.

Rawlings did not immediately give a reason, but the move comes amid a spike in the city’s homicide rate.

Baltimore was rocked with civil unrest in late April after black resident Freddie Gray died one week after suffering a critical spinal injury in police custody. Six police officers have been criminally charged in Gray’s death.

Since the rioting stopped, the city has seen a sharp increase in violence, with 155 homicides this year, a 48 percent increase over the same period last year.

Categories: Maryland