BALTIMORE, Md. (WMAR) -
Baltimore made significant gains in its crime fight through the past five years, progress the mayor says will continue during this changing of the guard.
"Together, we're going to show the world that Baltimore is not a TV crime drama. It is thriving city made of people, made of neighborhoods," the mayor said.
And to protect those neighborhoods the mayor introduced Doctor Anthony Batts, a former police chief of both Long Beach and Oakland, California, has a doctorate in public administration will be the next to lead this city's police department.
Batts says he was born in Washington, D.C., has family in the area and is ready to “return home.”
The next commissioner has his own ideas for the BPD but says for the first three months will listen and learn Baltimore.
"I have to make sure the culture of the organization, the culture of the city wants to fit with those things. And really what I want, I want to cultivate the creativity of my command staff, those people who are already here to open up the organization. I want an organization that is bold, creative, innovative and fast moving," Batts said.
Baltimore will be the largest organization he has run in his career and while come September it will be his to run, there is a blueprint already in place that seems to be working and during the interview process Batts said the mayor was insistent on keeping it.
"She said that she wanted to continue to focus on violent crime. No ands, no ifs, not buts about that. She wants to make sure that we are addressing the guns, the repeat offenders, doing it through smart technology, working closer with the community and as a professional and constitutional police department. And those are things that I whole heartedly agree with."
Keeping things the same is why some wanted current interim commissioner Anthony Barksdale or someone else inside the department.
Councilman Brandon Scott was one of those but in the end was glad to hear the mayor's pick echo a commitment to this city's current crime fighting plan.
"Oh yeah, most definitely. It does make me feel better he said that has to stay in place. If something is not broke, why fix it," said Scott.
But many eyes will be watching as this new Baltimore commissioner tweaks and tinkers.
Batts will need to go through the confirmation process with the city council, if all goes well his first day on the job will be September 27th.
About the selection process
According to information provided by the mayor's office Tuesday, the search process was kept confidential to "protect the integrity of the process and applicants."
The mayor and panel members reportedly personally interviewed finalists for hours in private conference rooms at BWI Airport. Finalists underwent extensive background and references checks. Mayor Rawlings-Blake also spoke with trusted advisors in the national law enforcement community. The process was, by any measure, remarkable because of how collaborative yet disciplined it remained for more than two months.
Check back with ABC2 News as we continue to develop this story.
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