Baltimore mayor fires police commissioner, claims city needs to reduce violence 'faster'

Kevin Davis, Baltimore police commissioner, ousted by Mayor Catherine Pugh

Kevin Davis is new Baltimore police commissioner

Mayor Catherine Pugh elevated Deputy Commissioner Darryl D. DeSousa, saying she'd tried to work hand-in-hand with Davis during her 13 months in office but needed to see more progress.

Baltimore police commissioner axed as city struggles with record murder rate Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis has been fired after the city's mayor grew "impatient" with his inability to stop the record pace of killings in the city.

A news conference was scheduled for later Friday morning.

Violent crime rates in Baltimore have been notoriously high for decades and the city has recently been dealing with increasing homicides fueled by drugs and other problems, the Associated Press reported. Baltimore, which has shrunk over decades, now has about 615,000 inhabitants.

The city has about 615,000 residents. DeSousa said he expects the increased police presence to last for a considerable amount of time. It's ironic that the "crackdown on repeat violent offenders" being planned by the new commissioner, is one of the oldest ideas in policing and hardly new or creative.

It will take years to fix the damage done by both the corruption in the department and the loss of confidence in the politicians that run the city.

DeSousa said one of his first initiatives is to temporarily put more officers on the streets - largely by transferring administrative officers and detectives to patrol duties - and to place them in "strategic locations", such as areas near "problematic businesses". The district commanders in all nine districts know who they are. A city initiative to chip away at violent crime by focusing attention on five troubled zones started in October, and the mayor believes it has been paying off. "And I want to let everybody know that it will be done in a constitutional manner", DeSousa said. His appointment will be made permanent following "appropriate approvals", Pugh's office said.

He appears to have the backing of the City Council and a number of Baltimore's activists.

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Pugh said DeSousa is widely respected by his fellow officers.

Pugh's statement thanked Davis for his leadership.

Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defence and Educational Fund, tweeted that she was perplexed by the leadership change.

Pugh said she is grateful for the service Davis provided to the city.

Some Baltimore residents were also skeptical that a veteran as entrenched as DeSousa could bring true reform.

He said similar initiatives were undertaken twice previous year.

Pugh's replacement of Davis are one of the many blemishes on the face of the Baltimore Police Department following the 2015 murder of Freddie Gray which include a 2016 Justice Department report stating the department has a long history of racial bias against blacks in addition to several officers being accused of filing false affidavits in order to seize money. He replaced Anthony Batts, the former police chief in Oakland who was sacked as Baltimore's top officer after homicides spiked following the death of Freddie Gray, a black man whose fatal spinal cord injury in police custody triggered massive protests.

Since the riots that tore the city apart and the federal government putting the city's police under the microscope, it's only gotten worse.

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