Leaders of a community coalition that called for the resignation of Anthony Batts say the city has an opportunity for a fresh start after the police commissioner's firing.
Before Wednesday, Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development members had never before called for a police commissioner's resignation in the history of the 38-year-old organization. At Trinity Baptist Church on Thursday, they said they were pleased that interim Commissioner Kevin Davis says he will focus on his relationship with residents and the rank and file, but acknowledged that many don't know much about Davis yet.
"Most in Baltimore are just not even aware of his background," said Bishop Douglas Miles, co-chair emeritus for BUILD. "So this is his opportunity to introduce himself to the citizens of Baltimore."
Rev. Glenna Huber, clergy co-chair for the coalition, said the group was "happy to hear Interim Commissioner Davis say that he would walk with his officers in the community to begin to rebuild trust."
"The level of violence in this city is out of control, and a change needed to happen," she said.
The organization called on Davis to meet with them and walk the city's neighborhoods. Residents need to hear a specific policing plan to address the surge in violence, said BUILD organizer Gwen Brown.
"I'm hopeful this will be a great change," she said.
Miles said it's time for officers to step up, too.
"It needs to emphasized that with the change in leadership, the rank and file need to begin proactive policing because they can no longer use the excuse that Commissioner Batts is the reason why they're not doing their best work," he said.
Overall, the group is hopeful.
"In BUILD, we believe it's a new day," said Rev. Andrew Foster Connors, BUILD clergy co-chair. "And we're ready to roll up our sleeves and work with Commissioner Davis in rebuilding the trust that's been broken in the community."
The city needs to address its problems swiftly because it is in crisis, clergy members said. If the department needs more officers, Davis should call for additional ones if needed, they said.
"If they were white people being killed, this city would declare a state of emergency," Miles said. "We're asking the same sense of urgency around the neighborhoods where we live."