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Interim Baltimore police commissioner announces major reorganization

Interim Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis announced a sweeping reorganization of the department in an email to police Saturday night, promoting or moving 28 people into new roles.

Interim Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis announced a reorganization of the department in an email to police Saturday night, formally promoting or moving 28 people into new roles and undoing some changes made by his predecessor Anthony W. Batts.

"These promotions and the streamlined organizational structure are designed to maximize the effectiveness of the Department in achieving our mission of driving down violent crime and building strong partnerships with Baltimore's citizens," Davis wrote in the email obtained by the Sun.

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Davis went back to the department's traditional structure of having two deputy commissioners, one overseeing operations and the other leading the administrative side. Underscoring the change, Davis did away with the name Batts had chosen for the administrative bureau, which had been called "Professional Standards and Accountability."

Darryl D. DeSousa, the chief of patrol, will now head the administrative bureau, while Dean Palmere, already a deputy commissioner, will oversee all operations. Palmere has been a top official in the agency since the tenure of former Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III.

Davis himself was a deputy commissioner before Batts' firing on July 8, tapped by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake amid a historic surge in crime coming in the months after the city devolved into rioting following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray from injuries sustained in police custody. As of Saturday evening, 190 people have been killed so far this year, and 45 people were killed in July, tying a 1972 record for the most homicides in any month ever.

Other shifts include the promotion of Melissa Hyatt, who was serving as an active chief of staff, to chief of patrol. Ganesha Martin, head of the community engagement bureau, will become head of a new division to oversee compliance with an ongoing Department of Justice review announced this spring.

Sean Miller, who previously oversaw several police districts, will now oversee all criminal investigations. Donald Bauer, previously the acting major of the Western District, will oversee homicide investigations.

Davis also appointed or confirmed the promotions of four district commanders — Mark Howe will lead the Central District, Byron Conaway will lead the Southwestern District, Sheree Briscoe will lead the Western District, and Brian Hance will lead the Southern District.

City Councilman Brandon Scott, the vice chair of the public safety commission, said he was pleased with almost all of Davis's changes, as many of the officers had deep roots in the community.

"I think some of these were long overdue," he said of the promotions. "A lot of these folks have busted their butts for a long time and done a lot of good work. I think it's great they're finally being rewarded for their hard work."

Scott said he particularly liked that Davis confirmed many commanders who had been operating in a temporary capacity. They were "walking on eggshells," as acting commanders while still having all the same duties and responsibilities, he said.

"That was not an effective strategy under the previous administration," Scott said.

The changes will go into effect August 6.

Baltimore police planned a news conference for 11 a.m. Sunday.

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