Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon replaced her unpopular police commissioner because she “wasn’t feeling that drive like I wanted to” and said she was impressed with the way his interim replacement, Frederick H. Bealefeld III, peppered colleagues with engaging and challenging questions during crime meetings, reports the Baltimore Sun. After she announced she had asked Leonard Hamm to resign amid plunging support and soaring numbers of homicides and shootings, Dixon confirmed long-standing claims from officers and their union that Bealefeld has effectively been running the department for months.
Dixon said Bealefeld’s appointment would not signal a change in the strategy to fight crime. But his style could reinvigorate a department struggling with what Dixon called an “out-of-control” murder rate. So far this year, 178 people have been killed, up from 149 last year at this time. This year, 423 people have been shot – 108 more than at the same time last year. Bealefeld said, “We will make this city safe. The people of this city have high expectations of their leaders in the Police Department, and they should. I don’t take it lightly. The citizens demand action, and the mayor expects results.” To find a permanent replacement, Dixon is creating a national search committee – though Bealefeld expressed interest in holding on to the top job.