Baltimore Police Chief Ousted Amid Crime Spike

     BALTIMORE (CN) – With homicides spiking to levels not seen for decades in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death, Baltimore’s mayor has ousted the city’s police chief.
     “We need a change,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. “This was not an easy decision, but it is one that is in the best interest of the people of Baltimore.”
     Effective immediately, the mayor removed Anthony Batts as city police chief and replaced him on an interim basis with Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis.
     Batts came under fire on multiple fronts – including the Fraternal Order of Police, which issued a scathing report of police leadership – in the face of rioting after 25-year-old Gray suffered a critical spinal injury while in police custody on April 12.
     Though riots over Gray’s death quickly abated, a spike in violent crime in Baltimore included 42 homicides in May and 31 in June.
     Just two days ago, three people were shot to death near the University of Maryland’s downtown campus and one more person was gunned down on Wednesday.
     “Recent events have placed an intense focus on our police leadership, distracting many from what needs to be our main focus, the fight against crime,” Rawlings-Blake said in a video footage of the press conference posted online.
     Rawlings-Blake praised Batts for his service and the reforms that the commissioner of three years began implementing.
     Batts has put more officers on the streets during the hours of peak crime, brought transparency to the agency and improved police accountability, the mayor said.

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