Two top Baltimore Police commanders signal intent to retire

Two of the Baltimore Police Department's top commanders have notified the department that they intend to retire, moves that come as Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts prepares to reshape the agency in coming weeks.

The commanders are Col. Jesse Oden, the chief of criminal investigations, and Maj. John Hess, who lead the Violent Crimes Impact Section.

One of the commanders is Col. Jesse Oden, the chief of criminal investigations, who filed retirement paperwork around the time Batts took over, then was talked into staying. He told superiors this week that he will retire after all, ending a 33-year career.

The other is Maj. John Hess, who leads the Violent Crimes Impact Section, which came under criticism from city council members during Batts' confirmation hearing. Batts stripped away and redeployed some of its resources last month.

But the unit was a signiture part of the previous administration's crime-fighting strategy and officials have pointed to big crime declines in areas where they were deployed. For example, crime was spiking last year in the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood last year, but has declined sharply since a VCIS zone was created there. 

Batts has alluded to coming changes in his command staff, though sources said the departures of Oden and Hess were voluntary. Earlier this year, Deputy Commissioner Anthony Barksdale, who was vying for the top job, left on medical leave.

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