As for churches, Russell started asking some of the 120 congregations in his district to reach out to the “drug house” or the home marked by repeated violence on their blocks.

Pastors began to buy in and started “prayer walks” through the neighborhoods. Slowly, perceptions about churches changed, and Russell began deploying prayer walks in some of the city’s most crime-ridden areas.

“What you began to see was a transformation in the community,” he said.

Russell said Batts wants him to start the same initiatives citywide, as well as focus on working with released or paroled prisoners returning to the community. Russell said Batts wants police to “serve” the community.

Four of the nine patrol districts will have new leadership. District commanders are the community's go-to source for everything going on in neighborhoods.

The Northeast District will be commanded by Maj. Richard Worley, with Darryl DeSousa becoming an area commander for the east side of the city. In a previously announced move, the Western District will be led by Maj. Robert Smith — who in 2008 received a six-figure settlement and public apology from the department after being wrongly charged administratively with a sex offense.

Scott, the City Council member, said he was happy to see DeSousa and Russell move up. “In particular, Lt. Col. DeSousa and Lt. Col. Russell are two great moves — commanders that are not only well-respected in law enforcement but in the community.”

He also called Hyatt’s promotion a “perfect fit.”

In other moves, the former Central District commander, Dennis Smith, is being moved to the Criminal Investigations Division, where he will be in charge of district detectives, who investigate nonfatal shootings, stabbings and other serious crimes. Maj. Dan Lioi will assume control of the intelligence unit.

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin George contributed to this article.

jfenton@baltsun.com