Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has selected former Oakland, Ca., Police Chief Anthony Batts as Baltimore’s next police commissioner, bringing in a leader who has been hailed as an innovator but who struggled to push his agenda at his last job, reports the Baltimore Sun. Batts, 52, spent nearly 30 years with the Long Beach, Ca., Police Department — including seven as chief — before taking over the Oakland force in 2009. He resigned in October 2011 after butting heads with the mayor and City Council. Batts will replace Frederick Bealefeld, who retired in June.
Batts grew up in south-central Los Angeles. Billed by supporters as a “change agent” who drove down crime to decades-record lows in Long Beach, Batts had a messy split in Oakland, where he said he “found myself with limited control but full accountability” and came under fire for failing to advance court-ordered reforms. He left weeks before the department made national news during a clash with protesters from the Occupy movement. Lt. Steve James of the Long Beach Police Officers Association said people there were sorry to see Batts leave for Oakland. “He was very well-liked here,” James said. “He’s a very smart guy, very open-minded and community-oriented. He helped move us forward in a lot of areas.”