Baltimore mayor replaces police commissioner

Kevin Davis, Catherine Pugh
The Associated Press

BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore’s mayor announced Friday she has replaced the city’s police commissioner, saying a change in leadership was needed to reduce crime and violence more quickly.

Deputy Commissioner Darryl DeSousa will take Commissioner Kevin Davis’ place immediately, Mayor Catherine Pugh’s office announced in a news release.

The appointment of DeSousa, a 30-year veteran of the force, will be made permanent following “appropriate approvals,” the release said.

“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,” Pugh said in the release. “As such, I have concluded that a change in leadership is needed at police headquarters.”

Violent crime rates in Baltimore have been notoriously high for decades and the city has recently been dealing with increasing homicides. Baltimore ended 2017 with 343 killings, bringing the annual homicide rate to its highest ever – roughly 56 killings per 100,000 people. Baltimore, which has shrunk over decades, currently has about 615,000 inhabitants.

DeSousa, a 53-year-old city resident, said he was honored by the mayor’s confidence in him “at this critical time” for the city.

“Baltimore has long been my home and I’ve spent my career on its streets and in its neighborhoods to address problems and bring about solutions that are meaningful for the people we serve,” he said in the mayor’s news release.

Pugh’s statement thanked Davis for his leadership.

“I am grateful to Commissioner Davis for all that he has done to implement the initiatives underway to address violent crime at it root causes,” she said.

A news conference was scheduled for later Friday morning.

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