Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts Fired
The man in charge of the embattled Baltimore Police Department is out of a job. Anthony Batts was commissioner of the police department when the death of detainee Freddie Gray in police custody led to unrest in April. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a press conference Wednesday that she decided to fire Batts because recent events had distracted the police from its job of getting crime under control. She has appointed an interim commissioner to take the place of Batts.
The decision to fire Batts came after the release of a scathing report from the Baltimore police union that criticized police leadership during the riots. In its “After Action Review,” the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police stated, “before and during the riots, Police Commissioner Batts and his top commanders adopted a passive stance that put the image of themselves and City Hall ahead of the safety of its citizens and public servants… The question begs now, is the Baltimore Police Department prepared for the next potential unrest? Does Commissioner Batts have the leadership skills necessary to get the job done?” The Fraternal Order of Police review concluded officers lacked basic riot equipment, training and direction from leadership.
Rawlings-Blake reacted to the report in a statement saying that she's disappointed that the FOP continues to issue "baseless and false information" instead of working to find solutions that will protect officers. The mayor called the report a "trumped up political document full of baseless accusations, finger pointing and personal attacks."
Rawlings-Blake said her decision to fire Batts, whom she appointed as commissioner in 2012, was not an effort to appease the union. She said that he served "with distinction,” but cited a spike in crime and a need for a leadership change.
Batts had more than three decades of experience in law enforcement, including serving as chief of police in Long Beach, Calif., and Oakland, Calif. 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.