Baltimore police chief fired and top commanders locked out of building in purge of scandal-plagued department
Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis was relieved of command on Friday by Mayor Catherine Pugh in a shakeup of the troubled department, The Baltimore Sun reported Friday.
Deputy Commissioner Darryl D. DeSousa was temporarily promoted, effective immediately. Mayor Pugh said she would ask the City Council to approve DeSousa permanently.
“As I have made clear, reducing violence and restoring the confidence of our citizens in their police officers is my highest priority,” Pugh said in a statement. “The fact is, we are not achieving the pace of progress that our residents have every right to expect in the weeks since we ended what was nearly a record year for homicides in the city of Baltimore.”
There were 343 homicides in 2017 and homicide Detective Sean Suiter was fatally shot with his own gun one day prior to testifying against other officers before a federal grand jury.
“Crime is now spilling out all over the city, and we’ve got to focus, so I am charging this commissioner and his staff to get on top of it to reduce the numbers and to reduce them quickly,” Mayor Pugh tasked.
DeSousa was one of three deputy commissioners prior to the shakeup. Also on Friday, Deputy Commissioner Dean Palmere of the criminal investigations bureau and Deputy Commissioner Jason Johnson of the strategic services bureau had access to the building, computers and cell phones cut off.
The mayor’s office said it was just a “technical issue.”
“There has been no one else who has been replaced outside of Police Commissioner Davis,” said spokeswoman Amanda Rodrigues-Smith.
City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young backed Mayor Pugh’s move.
“Darryl is a student of community policing and understands that the way forward will require a concerted reconciliation process to help repair trust between the department and the public at large,” Young said. “The road ahead will be difficult, but members of the City Council stand ready to partner with Mayor Pugh, Commissioner Designate DeSousa and the men and women of the police department as we continue the process of reforming policing practices in our city.”
“With the consent decree and the civil unrest, I think Davis just came in at a very, very tough time,” said vice president of the police union, Lt. Kenny Butler.