Baltimore Mayor To Leave, Creating New Uncertainty For Police


Baltimore’s embattled Police Department, confronting a spike in violent crime and scrutiny after the death of Freddie Gray, is facing months of uncertainty about its leadership. With Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s announcement that she will not run for re-election, she and her aides became lame ducks, says the Baltimore Sun. Police leadership was thrown into flux after she fired Commissioner Anthony Batts in July. Kevin Davis has been serving on an interim basis. Even if Rawlings-Blake picks a permanent successor, her successor could impose change again after the November 2016 election. Joe Thomas, an expert in law enforcement leadership at the University of Maryland, said, “That’s the one issue that’s captured not the city’s attention but the nation’s attention: law enforcement in the city of Baltimore. So I would envision a very public national search not long after the seating of the next mayor.”

The mayor said she based her decision to drop her bid for re-election partly on a need to focus less on politics and more on public safety. Joe Domanick, associate director of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said Baltimore’s department faces daunting challenges. “Baltimore is caught in the real complexity facing policing right now, which is that whoever becomes the mayor or police chief is going to be caught between a rock and a hard place,” he said. “When you have the kind of violent crime that exists in Baltimore and the kind of traditional policing that exists in Baltimore, it’s very, very difficult to reform that kind of department.”

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