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What they're saying about Police Commissioner Anthony Batts' firing

The morning after Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake fired Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, officials and others spoke on WBAL NewsRadio about her decision and what comes next.

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, mayor

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The mayor reiterated that while Batts has the capacity to do the job, him serving as police commissioner had become a distraction.

"Him being in leadership had taken the focus off of what I believe we should all be focused on, which is how to make Baltimore a safer city," she said.

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She said she has a "long" and "good" relationship with the president of the police union, and is saddened by their adversarial position. On Wednesday, the union released a 32-page report that was highly critical of Batts.

"That's not what people want to see, they want to see leadership, they want to see collaboration," she said. "They don't want to see finger-pointing."

Rawlings-Blake said she is more focused at the moment on dealing with crime than figuring out who will have the permanent commissioner position. Deputy Commissioner Kevin Davis was named interim commissioner.

But that person "has to be someone who continues to make the reforms that are necessary to get the police department where we need it to be ... and someone who is capable of working hand in hand from the officers on the street to the community members.

I'm confident the interim commissioner has that ability," she said.

Kevin Davis, interim police commissioner

Davis promised the citizens of Baltimore he would to give them his best efforts as interim police commissioner.

He said reducing crime, improving police relationships with the community and maintaining a personal relationship with rank-and-file officers "mean the world to me."

Davis said he wants to focus on the reality of the city's situation when coming up with strategies.

"Leadership sometimes starts out with a theory first and hopes reality catches up with it," he said. "I want to put round pegs in round holes."

Davis said he won't just move past the report released by the Fraternal Order of Police criticizing police leadership during rioting on the day of Freddie Gray's funeral. Gray, 25, suffered severe spinal cord injuries while in police custody.

Gene Ryan, president of the police union, was Davis' second phone call after leaving city hall yesterday, he said.

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Sheila Dixon, mayoral candidate 2016

Dixon, who announced her decision to again run for mayor July 1, said she never would have hired Batts. Dixon became Baltimore's first black female mayor in 2007, but resigned in 2010 after an embezzlement conviction.

"Commissioner Batts would not have been hired under my administration because I know what we had was working and if the current administration would've kept that in place and built on that, we would not have seen, I strongly believe, what happened in the case of Freddie Gray and … the riots would not have happened," she said.

Dixon used her time on the radio to criticize the Rawlings-Blake administration.

"The riots were partly the result of a year of poor leadership and it starts with the mayor," she said.

Nick Mosby, city councilman representing West Baltimore

Mosby said serving as Baltimore's police commissioner "isn't the easiest task" and he acknowledged that Batts "really wanted to do a good job."

Still, the dismissal of Batts was a good move, Mosby said.

"I think yesterday was just a turning of the page," he said.

With the fresh start under Davis, Mosby said he's hoping for better relationships among police, elected officials and city residents.

"What I would like to see from it is the collaboration from the mayor's office, the City Council, the rank and file and the community – to come together and put a plan in place," he said.

Mosby said "now more than ever, it's critically important" to have city residents involved in the crime-fighting strategy.

Mosy said he hadn't yet reviewed the police union's report. But he questioned why such a report hasn't been issued by the police department itself or City Hall.

"Folks want answers," he said.

Connor Meek, resident who complained about police stations being closed after business hours

Meek – whose guest column in The Baltimore Sun spurred city police to reopen stations 24 hours – said he accepted an earlier on-air apology that was made by Davis.

He said officers still have a long way to go in having positive interactions with the public. Meek suggested that officers should be challenged to have meaningful interactions with the city's black residents.

While white residents might be upset about the police station hours, "the black citizens are just afraid of you. That's the issue here," Meek said.

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