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Baltimore Mayor Replaces Police Commissioner Anthony Batts

Anthony Batts has been replaced as Baltimore's police commissioner, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says. In his place, former Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis will become the interim chief.

Announcing the change at a Wednesday afternoon news conference, Rawlings-Blake commended Batts for leading a modernization effort and helping to make Baltimore more safe.

"But as we have seen in recent weeks, too many continue to die on our streets — including just one last night, and one lost earlier today," Rawlings-Blake said.

She said, "This is not an easy decision, but it is one that is in the best interest" of Baltimore. She added that the people of the city "deserve better."

The move to replace Batts comes two months after six of the city's police officers were charged with crimes ranging from assault to murder over the death of Freddie Gray.

Earlier Wednesday, the mayor's office issued a statement criticizing the Fraternal Order of Police's report on the rioting that wracked the city after Gray's death this spring. As The Baltimore Sun notes, the mayor's response to the FOP report did not address the growing calls for Batts' resignation.

Rawlings-Blake said her move wasn't prompted by an urge to "placate the FOP."

The FOP's After Action Report criticized the mayor along with Batts, stating, "To date, neither Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake nor Commissioner Batts has done anything since the riots to investigate either the successes or failures of the leadership during the riots."

The report also accused the mayor and the commissioner of trying to shift blame over the riots, stating, "When questions arose surrounding the management of the Baltimore Police Department, Rawlings-Blake and Batts issued scathing public attacks on the rank and file."

And the FOP also faulted Baltimore's mayor for not requesting the National Guard before events spiraled out of control in the city, saying that she should have realized the police force needed help.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.