- The Washington Times - Friday, October 5, 2007

BALTIMORE (AP) — Former Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey will not be Baltimore’s new police commissioner, Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon announced yesterday.

Mrs. Dixon chose Baltimore police veteran Frederick H. Bealefeld over Mr. Ramsey, saying the rate of violence in Baltimore has slowed under his leadership as acting commissioner.

“I had great confidence in what I saw in Frederick H. Bealefeld,” she said during a press conference at City Hall. The mayor said Commissioner Bealefeld has the same “passion and drive” that she does to improve Baltimore.

Commissioner Bealefeld will replace Leonard D. Hamm, whom Mrs. Dixon asked to step down in mid-July as the city’s homicide rate spiraled rapidly upward. The city had 231 homicides this year as of Wednesday, up from 212 by the same point in 2006.

However, since Commissioner Bealefeld took over on July 20, the city has recorded 53 homicides, compared with 65 during the same period last year.

“During his time as acting commissioner, the murder rate is down, as is the overall rate of shootings,” said Mrs. Dixon, a Democrat. “This is no coincidence. This is no accident.”

Commissioner Bealefeld said that when he took over as acting commissioner, the city was on pace to be 120 murders over the 2006 total of 275. At this point, the city is on track to have 55 more homicides than last year.

Although he acknowledged those were “baby steps,” Commissioner Bealefeld said the reductions were not a fluke.

“That’s not smoke and magic,” he said. “That’s real.”

Mrs. Dixon said that it was a close decision between Commissioner Bealefeld and Mr. Ramsey, but Commissioner Bealefeld’s 26 years with the Baltimore department helped her make her choice because she wanted someone who knew the agency.

Mrs. Dixon has shifted the city’s crime-fighting strategy from former Mayor Martin O’Malley’s zero-tolerance approach to a plan that includes targeted enforcement of the city’s most violent offenders, a renewed push to track illegal guns and improving relationships between officers and the neighborhoods they serve.

Commissioner Bealefeld was Commissioner Hamm’s top deputy. Commissioner Bealefeld has served as chief of detectives, commander of the citywide narcotics section and a supervisor of the homicide division.

Commissioner Bealefeld said one of his priorities will be taking illegal guns off the streets, noting the department has seized about 2,500 firearms since the beginning of the year.

“Every police officer in the city will remain focused on taking guns away from the bad guys,” he said.

Mrs. Dixon made her choice following the city’s September 11 primary, in which she won the Democratic nomination for mayor. Mrs. Dixon, who moved up from City Council president to mayor when Mr. O’Malley became governor, is expected to win a full term in November because of Baltimore’s overwhelming Democratic majority.

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