Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a brief statement that she was replacing Batts as head of the 2,500-officer department. Deputy Commissioner Kevin Davis will step in as interim head of the police.
Batts, who came to the Baltimore force from California in September 2012, received sharp criticism for his handling of rioting that followed the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray on April 27.
Gray died after suffering an injury while in police custody, heightening a national debate on police treatment of minorities. Six officers have been charged in his death.
Batts and other police commanders told officers to “hold the line” with rioters rather than confront people causing damage or threatening police.
Officials have said the orders were aimed at protecting officers and bystanders. About 160 officers were hurt in the rioting, almost 400 buildings were destroyed or damaged and the National Guard was sent in to restore order.
A review by Baltimore’s police union released on Wednesday criticized the police response. The review said commanders let unrest spiral into arson and looting, and officers lacked riot gear and training.
A spokesman for Rawlings-Blake called the review “a trumped-up political document.”
Batts apologized to officers in May, saying he put them in harm’s way.
Batts also had to grapple with an upsurge in killings after the rioting. Baltimore has tallied 155 killings for the year versus 105 in the same period in 2014.
Batts blamed the upturn in killings to the looting of pharmacies during and after the rioting, leading to turf wars among drug gangs. Gunmen killed three people overnight near the University of Maryland, Baltimore, police said.
Batts’ firing came a day before a faith coalition, Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development, planned to ask for his resignation.
Personally I think he was handcuffed by superiors in the situation but was man enough to step up and fall on his sword.
This is his reward…….