Baltimore mayor fires police chief
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Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake fired Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts on Wednesday, less than three months after Freddie Gray died from a severe spinal injury in police custody.

Rawlings-Blake announced the decision at a brief afternoon press conference, framing the decision as a response to rising violence and murder rates.  

She praised Batts for serving with “distinction” in the post for three years and for helping make the city safer, but said a change was necessary.

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“We need a change. This was not an easy decision, but it is one that is in the best interest of the people of Baltimore,” she said.

“We cannot continue to have the level of violence that we’ve seen particularly over recent weeks in this city.”

Deputy commissioner Kevin Davis will take over as interim commissioner. 

The news comes hours after the city’s police union bashed police brass, specifically Batts, for their response to the April riots after Freddie Gray's death.

The union released a review that panned Batts for dividing the department and said that the “passive response” by the police at large prompted the riots that broke out.

Rawlings-Blake alluded to that report and the fallout from Gray’s death by briefly mentioning the “recent events [that] have placed an intense focus on our police leadership, distracting many from what needs to be our main focus: the fight against crime.”

She brushed aside questions about whether the firing had anything to do with the criticism from the union, the Fraternal Order of Police.

“It happened on the same day but I don’t think many who know me would suggest that I would do anything to placate the FOP,” she said.

The Baltimore Sun first reported Batts's dismissal.

This story was updated at 5:42 p.m.