Anthony Batts, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s nominee to be the next police commissioner, said his focus will be on serving the city’s communities.
"I expect to have a well disciplined, focused police department. A police organization that remembers that we serve our community, and [be] clear that we are here to make their lives better," Batts said. "They’re not the enemy. They’re the people who we serve, and we will get in closer to those communities."
Batts, the former police chief in Long Beach and Oakland, was officially introduced during a news conference on Tuesday at City Hall, but word leaked yesterday that he had been chosen. Batts resigned his job in Oakland in October 2011 after Oakland Mayor Jean Quan was elected.
"The mayor that brought me there stepped out of office...the mayor who took over, she didn't get a chance to interview me and say 'are we doing the same things?' like Mayor [Rawlings-]Blake has. I didn't get a chance to interview her and ask what she wanted out of me," Batts said.
He also had stern words for what he said is the 10 percent of the city’s population committing crimes.
"To those that would hurt, who would beat, who would rob and cause pain to the weak. We are coming," Batts said.
Batts also told members of the news media that he doesn’t have any immediate plans to make changes in the way the department operates.
"I think the mistake is coming in and making changes without any purpose. You don’t make changes just for changes. What I’m going to be doing my first 90 days is listening and learning," Batts said.
Batts is set to replace former Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld III, who in May.
He said that he feels the department has been doing well, but that he will be making the command staff submit their resumes to him because he wants them to feel like they’re competing for their jobs.
Rawlings-Blake said she felt comfortable hiring a commissioner not from the city because her mandate was to find the best police commissioner possible, not the best police commissioner from Baltimore.
"I’ve heard the criticism that [picking someone from outside the department] would impact morale… but I think that it’s important to remember what we’ve been able to do here in Baltimore over the last few years in tough times," Rawlings-Blake said.
Councilman Brandon Scott, who did not attend the news conference, said afterward outside of City Hall that he supported giving acting Police Commissioner Anthony Barksdale an opportunity to lead the department.
"I would’ve loved to see him get the chance to run the department," Scott said.
But he said the mayor made the decision that she thought was best for the residents of Baltimore.
"You move forward. You don’t cry over spilt milk in this business," Scott said.