After a record year in homicides, the mayor of Baltimore fired the city's police commissioner and said a change in leadership was needed to reduce crime more quickly.
Deputy Commissioner Darryl DeSousa, a 30-year veteran of the force, will take The Place of Commissioner Kevin Davis immediately, Mayor Catherine Pugh announced Friday
"My decision is because I'm an inpatient," Pugh said in a statement. Press conference. "My decision is based on the fact that we have to reduce these numbers … I am looking for new, creative and innovative ways to change what we are seeing here every day."
Rates of violent crime in Baltimore have been notoriously high for decades and the city has recently been dealing with rising homicides. Baltimore ended 2017 with 343 murders, raising the annual homicide rate to its highest level to date: approximately 56 murders per 100,000 people. Baltimore, which has been reduced for decades, currently has about 615,000 inhabitants.
DeSousa, a 53-year-old city resident who joined the department in 1988, pledged to fight violent crime by putting more officers on the streets, an effort he said is already underway. Additional uniformed officers began deploying at 9 am as part of a new initiative, he said at the press conference.
DeSousa said he had a message for violent recidivists, the "triggers" that "plague the city."
"We're going after them," he said.
DeSousa has played various roles over the years and in 2017 he was assigned to lead the patrol office, the department's largest. His appointment will be permanent after "appropriate approvals," Pugh's office said in a press release.
City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young said in a statement that he supports the mayor's decision and believes that the appointment of DeSousa "be warmly received throughout the police department and the city of Baltimore."
Davis was sworn in as commissioner in October 2015 after serving interim for several months. He replaced Anthony Batts, who was fired after homicides occurred after the death of Freddie Gray, a black man whose fatal spinal cord injury in police custody sparked massive protests that year and the worst riots in the city in decades.
Before 2015, Baltimore homicides had generally decreased.
In a statement, Pugh – who took over as mayor in December 2016 and pledged to reduce crime, increase police recruits and improve neglected neighborhoods long ago – thanked Davis for his leadership. 19659002] "I am grateful to Commissioner Davis for all he has done to implement the ongoing initiatives to address violent crime at its roots," he said.
Sarah Rankin, writer for The Associated Press in Richmond, Va., Contributed to this report.