anthony batts

Baltimore has sacked its police chief after a wave of murders

It “was not an easy decision” to fire him, the city’s mayor said.

THE VIOLENCE-PLAGUED US city of Baltimore has fired its police chief.

Police Commissioner Anthony Batts was dismissed with immediate effect, said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who put his deputy in charge on an interim basis.

Baltimore Police Death AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

“This is not an easy decision,” the mayor told reporters, but recent weeks had shown that “too many continue to die on our streets.”

The East Coast city has witnessed 155 murders so far this year and 303 shootings, including a quadruple shooting on Tuesday near a college campus that claimed three lives.

That compares to 105 homicides and 163 shootings at this time last year.

Modernising the police force

Batts came to Baltimore in September 2012 with a mandate to modernise its police force, the eighth largest municipal force in the United States.

He was formerly police chief in the California cities of Long Beach and Oakland.

But he has come under fire for his handling of riots that erupted after the death of an African-American man, Freddie Gray, 25, in police custody in April.

Six police officers were charged in connection with Gray’s death.

It was America’s worst outbreak of civil unrest since the August 2014 shooting of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri by a white police officer.

Police Commissioner Fired AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Batts’ dismissal came hours after Baltimore’s police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, alleged in a report that he and the mayor had failed to give rank-and-file officers the training, equipment and support needed to confront rioters.

Rawlings-Blake denied that Batt’s dismissal was connected with the union allegations.

Baltimore, population 622,000, is the 26th most populous city in the United States, with the nation’s eighth largest municipal police force.

- © AFP, 2015

Read: Three dead in shooting near US university campus>

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