Maj. Margaret Barillaro took over the Southern District in July of last year after a popular major, Scott Bloodsworth, retired rather than accept a new assignment overseeing reforms in the sex offense unit.
The new major in South Baltimore will David Reitz, who is being promoted from his rank of deputy major in the Southeast District. Reitz joined the Police Department in 1982 and worked in patrol, the Organized Crime Division and a district operations unit.
Community leaders in South Baltimore had objected to the removal of Bloodsworth, who many regarded as an accessible, community oriented police commander. He often responded personally to calls and could easily be reached on his cell phone.
Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III attended a South Baltimore community meeting last year to assure uneasy residents that Bloodsworth was needed to address larger concerns in the department.
Jack Baker, the head of the Southern District Police Community Relations Council, said on Friday that community leaders did not fully embrace Barillaro. "She was not a community sort of cop," Baker said. "Bloodsworth liked the community. He really believed that cops need us as much as we need them."
Baker, who also attends community meetings in Southeast, said he has got to know Reitz and looks forward to him taking over command. "He's a good guy," Baker said. "He'll be welcome with open arms."
Baker said he does not believe Bealefeld made the changes because of his concerns, but he did say that he has talked with the commissioner about the command structure. "We've talked to him about our concerns, and he's always been willing to listen."
South Baltimore includes neighborhoods such as Federal Hill, where some rowhouses close to the Inner Harbor can fetch a half million dollars or more, and is one of the city's most popular nightlife districts. It also includes areas further south, where crime is more frequent, such as depressed communities of Cherry Hill and Westport.
Anthony Guglielmi, the chief spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department, said Barillaro's new assignment is important for the agency that wants to set "the gold standard on the way we police and operate."
He said the process could take up to two years as the department evaluates everything from the way interviews are conducted, and the rooms they are conducted in, to how officers patrol the streets.
The department is seeking acceptance from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, an arduous process that requires a top to bottom review of practices and procedures.
Hundreds of police agencies across the country are accredited, but few are big departments. The New York Police Department and the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, for example, are not accredited. Department in Maryland that are accredited include Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, Howard County and Annapolis.