Anthony Batts, who was fired as Baltimore Police Commissioner yesterday by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, came to the city in 2012 pledging reform. During nearly three years in office, there was hardly an issue on which he didn’t meet with an advisory panel or outside experts. As a newcomer, he distanced himself from problems while vowing to correct them, says the Baltimore Sun. “I didn’t break it, but I’m here to fix it,” the Californian was wont to say. Batts, 54, struggled to gain buy-in to his efforts. As some in the public questioned his reform efforts and transparency, police officers believed Batts was cracking down unfairly and caving in to pressure. Homicide rates seesawed. Officers said Batts never crafted a crime plan they could follow.
“I spoke with a lieutenant today, and he said to me, ‘We have no direction,'” said Lt. Kenneth Butler, president of the Vanguard Justice Society, an organization for black officers. Rawlings-Blake said Batts improved public safety, but she fired him because questions about his leadership had become a distraction amid rising crime. Batts’ interim replacement, Kevin Davis, said Batts was at “the top of the list” of reform-minded chiefs nationwide. Batts, who is black and grew up in a poor section of Los Angeles, sought to improve relations between police and the communities they serve. He read to children at an elementary school, and urged officers to become involved in their communities.