Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is seeking to remove the 'interim' title from police commissioner Kevin Davis. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
Asked one month ago why Kevin Davis, the "interim" Baltimore police commissioner, was "interim" commissioner -- and not simply commissioner -- Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake seemed put off by the question.
The public doesn't care about that, she told me on my WYPR radio show. What people care about is the surge in violence across the city and getting it under control.
A week later, I heard an echo of the mayor's response in Hillary Clinton's answers to questions about the unsecured email server she used while secretary of state. Clinton suggested that only the press and her Republican opponents cared about the issue.
"Nobody talks to me about it, only you guys," she said as she walked away from the news media in Nevada.
Politicians play that game, dismissing reporters' questions as trivial or framed to inflate something from nothing.
But the "interim" tag on Davis's title was no small thing. It suggested that Davis was merely a temp, a fill-in between the commissioner Rawlings-Blake hired and fired, Anthony Batts, and some other unnamed commish who would be recruited from another one of those vaunted "national searches" that -- incoming sarcasm! -- worked out so well for Baltimore in the past.
The problem with the "interim" tag was it left Davis in a kind of limbo: Here was this experienced and capable cop, a former chief in Anne Arundel County who had several years before that in Prince George's County -- at a time when their police force came under Justice Department scrutiny, as Baltimore's is now -- in a prolonged tryout for a job.
While there is something to be said for cautionary approaches -- in the Rawlings-Blake tradition, studying this and task-forcing that before making a decision -- law enforcement in Baltimore begs for stability and some consistency.
The last thing we need is more uncertainty about police leadership faced with the huge tasks of reducing crime in one of the most violent cities in America while shepherding it through six trials of police officers charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray, while also trying to reform the culture of the BPD.
So I'm glad the mayor now wants to drop the "interim" tag and just make the commissioner the commissioner. The Fraternal Order of Police ought to give Davis a loud and clear vote of confidence. The City Council ought to give him a contract that extends one year into the next mayor's term -- until December 2017. That gesture says: Here, do the job, we support you.