Amid a spike in homicide rates, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced Wednesday that she fired Police Commissioner Anthony Batts.
The personnel change comes nearly three months after the city erupted in demonstrations to protest the unlawful arrest and death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old man who died in police custody in April. Weeks after Gray’s death, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced criminal charges against the six police officers involved in his death and arrest.
In the announcement, Rawling-Blake appointed Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis as interim commissioner. From the Baltimore Sun:
“We cannot grow Baltimore without making our city a safer place to live,” Rawlings-Blake said at a press conference at City Hall. “We need a change. This was not an easy decision, but it is one that is in the best interest of the people of Baltimore. The people of Baltimore deserve better.”
The termination comes on a curious day — on Wednesday, the Baltimore Police Union came out with a report on the department’s handling of the protests sparked by Gray’s death. Rawlings-Blake said the report did not play a role in her decision.
Crime has, however, been on a steady incline. On Tuesday night, the city witnessed a shooting near the University of Maryland at Baltimore’s campus that left three people dead. There have been 155 murders since the beginning of the year, a 48 percent increase compared to 2014 numbers.