BALTIMORE (WJZ) –Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced a change of command within the Baltimore Police Department on Wednesday– firing Police Commissioner Anthony Batts.
In a press conference, Rawlings-Blake praised Batts’ leadership in Baltimore, but stated a change of command was necessary following an alarming spike in violence.
With Batts gone the mayor announces that former Deputy Commissioner Kevin Davis will take the new role as interim Police Commissioner
Davis thanked Batts for all he’s done for Baltimore City and says his immediate focus is the crime fight and building relationships.
“My focus for the future is really pretty simple. It’s all about the crime fight and it’s all about the relationship for our community, “Davis says. “The relationship with our community needs to be one of service.”
The mayor’s announcement comes months after Baltimore was shook by riots following the death of Freddie Gray.
“Recent events have placed an intense focus on our police leadership, distracting many from what needs to be our main focus: the fight against crime,” the mayor said.
Months later, the spike in violence continues, with 155 homicides this year—a 48% increase over the same period last year.
Just last night, gunmen opened fire in west Baltimore killing three people and injuring another near the University of Maryland Baltimore campus.
And another shooting this afternoon in which a man was shot to death.
City Councilman Brandon Scott tells WJZ he supports the mayor’s decision saying he hopes the change of command sets Baltimore in a better direction so they can tackle the surging crime wave and focus last on this war of words that has been playing out in the public between the mayor, FOP and the police.
According to the Baltimore Police Department website, Batts, who was appointed to Police Commissioner in 2012, has had more than three decades of experience in law enforcement.
Batts started his career in 1982 working street patrol and narcotics cases for the Long Beach Police Department.
“I’ve been honored to serve the citizens and residents of Baltimore,” Batts told our media partner The Baltimore Sun. “I’ve been proud to be a police officer for this city.”
Batts is a father of three children and holds a doctorate in public administration from the University of La Verne (1998), a master’s in business management from the University of Redlands (1988), and a bachelor’s in law enforcement administration from California State University, Long Beach (1986).
The Sun reports, Batts will also be entitled to a $190,000 lump sum payout if his contract is terminated without cause.
Davis was appointed to Deputy Commissioner in 2015 a month after stepping down as the Anne Arundel County Police Chief. Davis received a bachelor’s degree in English from Towson University in 1992. He is 46-year-old, married and has four children.
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The mayor’s decision comes just hours after the Baltimore FOP released its findings from their after-action review into the Freddie Gray riots. The report criticizes leadership in the Baltimore Police Department.
When asked if the mayor’s decision had anything to do with the FOP’s report the mayor said the two have nothing to do with each other.
On April 22, Commissioner Batts sat down with WJZ to discuss the aftermath from the city’s unrest.