Bowing to the political and empirical reality that the time had come to install new leadership at the helm of the beleaguered Baltimore Police Department, Mayor Sheila Dixon asked for the resignation of Baltimore Police Chief Leonard Hamm and pledged a national search for his replacement. The latest citywide poll expressed no confidence in the past leadership of the Baltimore Police Department and Mayoral opponents Jill Carter and Keiffer Mitchell, have both called for substantial changes in the direction and leadership of the Department.
Delegate Carter has been explicit, “In the past five years our city has moved from officers on the streets to watching crime take place through a closed-circuit television system. Drive through some of the city’s worst neighborhoods and the only police presence you will see is a flashing blue light attached [to] a police camera mounted on a light pole. The net result has been a sky rocketing murder rate and crime statistics that lead the state.”
Councilman Mitchell has been equally blunt, “In the last six months, 146 people have been murdered in our city and our citizens have lost faith in the interim-Mayor’s ability to address this crisis. As we slip back to the days of 300 murders per year, residents have been waiting to see her offer the leadership needed to stop this wave of violence. Instead, the interim-Mayor has only offered slogans, PR stunts, and failed plans. While the voters will have a chance to hold her accountable in September, we cannot wait that long to address this crisis.”
“So, the time has come for a change of leadership at the police department. Today, I am calling for Police Commissioner Hamm to step down.”
With the resignation of Hamm, the commencement of a national chief search, and a refocusing of police priorities, Mayor Dixon has stepped up to the plate and offered more than “slogans, PR stunts, or failed plans.” She has offered the leadership Baltimoreans have been asking for and she has acknowledged their legitimate concerns by acting decisively. Her recent actions confirmed my initial impression that the Mayor has the experience, vision, and integrity to lead, and reinforced my opinion that Baltimore needs to continue giving Sheila Dixon a chance to make the city the best it can be-they won’t be disappointed.