Sheila Dixon removes Baltimore Police Chief

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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.    

21 thoughts on “Sheila Dixon removes Baltimore Police Chief

  1. As a resident, all I can say is AMEN.

    Those surveillance cameras Carter’s talking about?

    Here’s an article on them: http://www.wbaltv.com/news/4538046/detail.html

    They look like some Big Brother rejects, and have a pulsing blue light on the top of them that NEVER STOPS FLASHING.

    They mount the things on telephone poles, right outside people’s second story windows. I can’t understand how that really helps anything…

  2. I have to say, I am rather disappointed in the Mayor. This firing only came after the Mayor conducted a citywide crime poll and found that white voters, the ones who are giving her opponent Keiffer Mitchell, had very serious doubts about Hamm. It was only then that we saw Hamm tender his resignation.

    I have seen very little in the way of changes in police tactics, and instead have seen non-stop waffling over badly thought out plans. Placing more officers on foot is a great idea, but Dixon suggested doing it with homicide detectives, not beat officers. A few weeks later, the plan was shelved.

    Don’t get me wrong, if I had to choose between Dixon and Mitchell, I would choose Dixon. However, I have numerous choices in this election, including Andrey Bundley, Frank Conaway, and my personal favorite, State Delegate Jill Carter. Check out Carter’s crime plan here, and also be sure to read her blurb about the importance of increasing access to quality drug treatment in Baltimore.

    I do understand the desire to support a black female Mayor, the first of her kind in Baltimore. However, in my opinion, Dixon’s actions as Mayor do not warrant a full term.

  3. Andrew,

    If you supported O’Malley, and I strongly suspect that you did, you are not being consistent in not supporting Dixon, his ally and successor. She has moved away from the policing policies he favored that were most objectionable to the black community-or is that your real problem?

  4. Hey Ben – we can’t ignore interim mayor Sheila Dixon’s part in helping to bring those surveillance cameras to Baltimore via Homeland Security grants and other monies. Her seat on the Board of Estimates provided her ample opportunity to raise a voice of dissension when this plan was being discussed or at least have community forums about them so that community folks could express their opinion before their bedroom window was bombarded by the blinking blue light. She chose however, to go along with the O’Malley administration and support the cameras with no input from the community.

    Andrew, being that Dixon has held elected office in Baltimore City for 20 years, your disappointment is completely understandable. One would think that she would have developed her own voice and been a far more vocal advocate for the community by now. Instead, she’s bowed to the corporations that control Baltimore and other political forces that don’t have the best interest of the people at heart. She and many others have become the embodiment of status quo politics in Baltimore. Mitchell and Rawlings-Blake, each with more than a decade of “service” are just as culpable. There is a direct link between those who have been in office and the condition of our school system, the level of crime, the lack of real opportunities for ex-offenders, and the unjust urban renovation (a.k.a. “negro relocation”) projects that are going on. Baltimoreans cannot afford to give a sistah another chance because that would mean another generation of youth without quality education, another era of locking up addicts and small time drug dealers while refusing to even investigate how the drugs and guns are getting here – that would mean another era of compromised Black misleaders who kiss the ring of Baltimore’s White Power Structure allowing the Baltimore Development Corporation, Johns Hopkins, East Baltimore Development Incorporated, Whiting-Turner, Baltimore Community Foundation, Greater Baltimore Committee, the Downtown Partnership, the O’Malley political machine and others to control Baltimore in what Dr. Neely Fuller calls the nine areas of people activity: economics, education, entertainment, labor, politics, law, religion, sex, and war. Voters must get beyond personalities and research the track record of these candidates. What have they voted for? What contracts have they approved? Where have they cut funding? When were they silent? When were they trying to chase down the cameras? How have policies that they have championed positively impacted local neighborhoods? These and other questions must be explored.

    By the way, Andrew – it appears that your link to mayoral candidate Jill Carter’s crime plan is broken. Here is the url for those that wish to see it: http://jillcarter.org/files/CarterCrimePlan.pdf

  5. brotha brown,

    I admire Jill Carter’s leadership on the crime issue and her detailed and thorough approach which will tackle the problem in a comprehensive way that respects the civil liberties of all in a way that zero tolerance does not. However, the Mayor’s office is not a job she can realistically win this year. Although she is a serious candidate, I could take her committment more seriously if she was running for Council President, a job she could win. The Council Presidency is pivotal to whatever policies are implemented for the City. As you’ve pointed out, the Council President sits on the board of estimate where all of the real decisions are made. Comptroller Pratt has made the most of her seat and has opposed the School budget bailout as well as other policies implemented by O’Malley. With Jill Carter as Council President, Baltimore would have the creative synergy needed to hammer out the progressive policies we’d all favor.

  6. rikyrah

    Mr. Brown, thank you for this info. Don’t live in Baltimore, but it’s becoming as deadly as Philly.

  7. Kelly

    Give Sheila a chance? I want to give my children a chance. A chance to receive a quality education. A chance to go outside and play and not get gunned down. This isn’t about supporting O’Malley’s ally. This isn’t about supporting her because she is a) a woman and b) black. If she could honestly make me believe she had what it takes to continue being mayor, I would support her. But she hasn’t shown me that at all. Everyday someone is getting shot. Not just homicides. Nonfatal shootings are up. Crime is up. Period!

    Hamm should have been out a while ago. I am so happy that Keiffer Mitchell called for his resignation weeks ago, and the polls showed that citizens weren’t satisfied with Hamm’s leadership. Without that Dixon would have never made the decision. She has to be led, so how can she lead????

  8. Nicole

    Kelly, I want to give your children, my children, and all of Balimore’s children a chance. That is why I am wholeheartedly supporting Delegate Jill Carter for mayor. Keiffer Mitchell did not call for Hamm’s resignation until after Delegate Jill Carter had already done so. Keiffer is part of the problem in Baltimore. He has sat on the city council since 1995, and voted for inadequate education budget, and every misuse of the city’s money. He has spent the past decade sucking up to O’Malley and the democratic machine so that he can win favor to move up the latter. He cares nothing about people, especially black people in this city and children in public school. This is clear because his childfen go to private school. Ask him why. There is no difference between Mithcell and Dixon and this is why you will find that they both get promoted in the Sun and other main media. This is why the rich corporations and developers that rob us blind (like BGE and Hopkins) finance their campaigns and give them all the support. Because they know these puppets will jump every time they say jump. Kelly and others, I beg you to wake up, wake up, wake up, before it is too late. We have no more time to play with these political phonies. Children and young people are dying and failing to succeed in life all over this city. Give our future a chance and vote for the only candidate that cares anything about the people and who has proven she will stand up for the people when everyone else is sitting down. JILL P. CARTER FOR MAYOR, VOTE SEPTEMBER 11. This is serious. This is life and death.

  9. anonymous

    I think Jill Carter would make an excellent City Council President. Mayor? She’s not ready. I’m not wasting my vote.

  10. anonymous

    Skepticalbrotha,

    Do you live in Baltimore? Do you honestly think Dixon is a good mayor? My neighbor is in a coma right now, because of the gang problem in Baltimore. Check her out on the news last night: http://www.wbaltv.com/news/13828994/detail.html She offers no solutions to the escalating gang problem. Just talks about when the gang members come home and the support they will need to make better decisions. I only pray Zach comes home, and I hope the Sowerses get the support they need. It burns me up when people talk about criminals getting the rehabilitation they need, why victims hang on to dear life. I am DEFINITELY voting for Mitchell.

  11. Anonymous,

    Thanks for the update on Zach Sowers, best wishes to him as he fights for a full recovery, as for the Mayor, I still support her. Both she and Councilman Mitchell supported Chief Hamm’s appointment by the previous Mayor who is now Governor.

    He was elected based on the “strength” of his record in Baltimore. Like it or not, this is his Police Department and his problem. If that isn’t satisfactory to you, vote against the Mayor even though most folks who feel as you do didn’t vote against O’Malley for what would have been a valid reason.

    I am troubled by people who give O’Malley a pass and then blame Dixon for the mess he left. All I’m asking for is some fairness. Nothing more, nothing less.

  12. anonymous

    Are you just supporting her because she is the first black female mayor? If so, I just wanted to let you know that I am a black female too, and I would love to support a black female. But brotha I’m skeptical. No pun intended. I do respect your opinion though. I’ve done my research on all of the candidates. Mitchell is the only one that I think will make this city better. I actually met him at an event, and asked him some tough questions. His quick adeptness was refreshing. Just what this city needs. Dixon is not approachable. Have you ever met her? Whew she is not a people person at all. She is trying to keep her true personality in check right now, because she is vying for votes.

    I will not support Dixon. I am going to be at the polls the moment they open. I was born and raised in Baltimore, and the future of this city is very important to me. I am frightened by the current statistics that Dixon is simply not addressing. Ok, “they” supported Hamm’s appointment. But who let him keep his job too long when he was obviously not doing a good job. Dixon! She is the mayor, she is ultimately responsible for this city. I won’t be responsible for letting Dixon keep her job when she isn’t doing a good one. I plan to utilize my right to vote, and I vow to vote for Mitchell and hold him accountable. I feel you on the O’Malley thing. I will also be troubled if Mitchell is blamed for the mess Dixon left when he becomes mayor. I will check in with you on 9/12.

    P.S. I am as fair as it gets. I am a democrat who voted for Ehrlich.

  13. Anonymous,

    I have been upfront about the fact that I like black women politicians, as a whole I find them more upfront, honest, and accountable. We all know somebody that is lazy and undeserving of the people’s support.

    However, I sincerely believe that Sheila Dixon is not that kind of person. For me, it ain’t about whether I would actually like the sistah, its about her leadership profile and track record of progressive governance. She blunted the rough edges of O’Malley’s reign and put her own stamp on the Mayor’s office.

    Her leadership has been criticized from one end of town to the other, but in the end, she fired the police chief and chose an interm leader that has the support of critical stakeholders in the city. She knows how to be decisive and she knows when top city commissioners are not serving her or the city.

  14. Anonymous

    You have to support the people in order to get their support. That begins with something as simple as being sincerely approachable, which she is not. Well I hope she doesn’t let you down. As one of her constituents, I will tell you I am pass the let down phase. Our homicide rate is currently 191. That is 100 additional people killed in Baltimore streets, since she introduced her crime plan in early May when the rate was at 91. Her new ad says she is a “problem solver”. Well I am still waiting for her to solve some problems. The bloodshed has to end. Her mayorship has to end. If Mitchell didn’t win, which he will, I’d take Carter over Dixon. Dixon is at the bottom of the barrel in my book. I’m so done with her. She has been around for too many years allowing people to tell her what to do. She should have acquired a voice by now. Shoot I’d vote for Martha McKenna, her campaign manager, before I voted for Dixon.

    Thanks for this platform, because people have been blinded by Dixon, and that has to end. I’m telling you, I’ve been in Baltimore all of my life. The citizens are sick of Sheila. Her support system consists of people looking for kickbacks if she continues on as mayor. Not the average person who just wants to walk home and not get beat down, or send their kids to school for a quality education. Good luck to your girl on 9/11. She’ll need it.

  15. Nicole

    You are ltying to yourself if you believe that Mitchell is ant better than Dixon. Mitchell is just as stupid, incompetent, and corrupt as Dixon. Remember Comcast, Mercy, and now his campaign finance scandal? The Mitchell family should change its name to “Kickback Klan”.
    There is one worthy, honest, intelligent, courageous, and caring candidate in the baltimore race for mayor. Her record and her resume are far better than the others. She has character, intergity, and vision like her father. Delegate Jill P. Carter will turn Baltimore around. If you support Dixon or Mitchell, you are supporting the lesser of 2 evils, but you are still supporting evil. I’m casting my vote for change and for a candidate I know will do the right things for Baltimore because she already has.

  16. Nicole

    Plus, Mitchell was too stupid to even study for the bar exam an pass it. Basically every single lawyr in the city is smarter than Mitchell. Why should he be mayor if he is not only stupid and shady, but also a quitter?

  17. Lisa

    Nicole? Is this really Jill Carter posting. Sounds boisterous just like her. If not, Nicole I actually think you are hurting Jill by posting such nonsense. Calling people stupid etc. How will that help Jill’s campaign? Take it down a notch.

  18. Nicole

    Lisa,

    I am passionate about the delegate because I know that she will make the best mayor. No, I am not her, and I take offense to your insulting her calling her “boisterous”. Name one single time that you have ever heard her say anything “boisterous”. I know she has been on the radio a lot, and she always comes off very knowledgeable and intelligent. She has a lot of class, more than most politicians from what I’ve personally observed. I think that Keiffer Mitchell is stupid, and I am entitled to my opinion. How do you explain his mssing those $40,000 expenditures from his campaign account. Or, if he’s not stupid, then what, he’s just untrustworthy.

  19. Skeptical Brotha –

    I found this website and would be interested in your take on it. It’s not a “smear” site. It’s more of an accountability site, in my view, that reminds visitors of decisions and actions Dixon has taken in the past that may foreshadow what type of Mayor she would be. Check it out:

    http://www.truthaboutdixon.com/index.php

    (don’t miss the stuff about the no-bid contracts)

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