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Ex-Baltimore police deputy commissioner to oversee public safety

Anthony Barksdale is the new deputy mayor of public safety for the city of Baltimore.

Anthony Barksdale, a Baltimore native who once served as the city’s deputy police commissioner was tapped by Mayor Brandon Scott to work as the deputy mayor of public safety.

Barksdale was Baltimore Police Department’s Deputy Commissioner of Operations, and later as the interim commissioner under former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Scott touted Barksdale's experience in law enforcement as a boon to the city.

Homicides across Baltimore dropped to under 200 for the first time in 30 years, and other violent crimes also decreased substantially, during Barksdale tenure at the police department. By comparison, there were 337 homicides in Baltimore last year.

Barksdale left the police force about a decade ago due to health reasons but has returned after feeling like there was unfinished business.

“I took this job because as a son of Baltimore, I care about our city, and I know that we are more than just the challenges we face,” he said during a press conference. “Baltimoreans deserve a city that they can feel safe in. A city where our young people, our businesses and our communities can thrive.”

He was a proponent of the mayor’s plan for a more holistic approach to policing that focuses on violence prevention and doesn’t violate civil rights of residents.

“I understand that we cannot go back to the failed zero tolerance policies of the past,” he said. “The community trust is crucial to the effectiveness of our law enforcement personnel, and that the best way forward is an alignment with the Consent Decree.”

The Department of Justice and the Baltimore Police Department entered into a consent decree in 2017 after the federal office found that the police force’s practices violated the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

Scott said Barksdale’s track record “speaks for itself.”

At the conference, Barksdale apologized for previous criticisms of current Police Commissioner Michael Harrison and shook her hand.

“Together I know we can make Baltimore a safer place for all,” he said.

Bethany Raja is WYPR's City Hall Reporter
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