Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has been under considerable pressure since riots and looting broke out in Baltimore, her city, following the death of Freddie Gray in the back of a police van.
She says she’s fed up.
“Too many continue to die on our streets including three just last night and one lost earlier today. Families are tired of feeling this pain and so am I.”
So, the Mayor is making a change, a big change.
She fired Police Commissioner, Anthony Batts who had been on the job for three years.
“Recent events have put an intense focus on our police leadership, distracting many from what needs to be our main focus, the fight against crime. So we need a change. This was not an easy decision but it was one that was in the best interest of the people of Baltimore.”
Here’s what’s really been going on.
There has been a police slowdown since 6 police officers were indicted in for Gray’s death in May.
Murders have increased; 147 so far this year.
Arrests are down dramatically.
In March there were 3,100 arrests.
In April there were 3,200 arrests.
And in May, the month of the indictment, there were 1,952 arrest.
This has been the deadliest period in Baltimore in 42 years.
Commissioner Batts has blamed the increase in crime and the lower of arrests on everything from protesters to residents but never on his leadership as the head of the department.
Yet, the members of his own department blame Batts and Mayor Rawlings-Blake for the problem.
Some of them spoke on CNN.
Their voices were disguised for fear of retaliation.
“I think the public really, really sees that they’re actually a softer, less aggressive police department and we’ve given them that and now they’re realizing that they’re way of thinking does not work.”
Officers say that while they respond the same to police calls, there’s one big difference.
“What’s different is the proactive, self-initiated policing have stopped. We’re now in a reactive mode. We’re in a total reactive mode. And this is the result that you get does a disservice to the law abiding citizens, does a disservice to the business owners, does a disservice to everybody except the criminal element because they’re on their glory right now. They know that pretty much that the whole police department has shifted to a reactive side.”
The Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police released a statement reading:
“Our After Action Review, released this morning, detailed officers’ concerns that the Baltimore Police Department’s response to the riots was lacking in many areas. We look forward to working with Interim Commissioner Kevin Davis to unite the Baltimore Police Department and move both our Department and City forward.”
But with officers out on the street feeling the way they do, it leaves one to wonder whether even a new commissioner will be able to make a difference, and whether Batts is the only one who has to go?
Don Lemon: Baltimore’s Police Commissioner Fired, But Should Other Heads Roll? was originally published on blackamericaweb.com