Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott announced a new deputy mayor for public safety today less than 24 hours after an encounter between a motorist and a group of squeegee workers in downtown Baltimore ended in the fatal shooting of the motorist.
Anthony Barksdale, a former Baltimore Police deputy commissioner, will return in the role of deputy mayor for public safety, said Scott, noting that the appointment, filling a vacancy, was the result of a months-long search.
“Barksdale is one of the smartest and most knowledgeable crimefighting professionals that we can bring to the table,” Scott said at a news conference joined by Police Commissioner Michael Harrison and other city officials.
“His track record speaks for itself,” Scott said, adding that during Barksdale’s tenure, homicides and violent crime both saw substantial drops.
Barksdale ran operations for the Police Department from 2007 until 2012. In 2011, Baltimore had fewer than 200 homicides for the first time in over 30 years.
In addition to touting his new deputy mayor’s experience, Scott took pains to downplay Barksdale’s past remarks critical of the consent decree and of Harrison.
“He knows that zero tolerance and stop-and-frisk policies of the past won’t produce sustainable outcomes for all Baltimoreans,” Scott said.
Barksdale, in his brief remarks, made the same point forcefully.
“I wholeheartedly – I wholeheartedly – believe in the mayor’s vision for a holistic approach to public safety that balances pro-active, constitutional policing with proven violence intervention, re-entry and prevention strategies,” he said. “I understand that we can not go back to the failed zero-tolerance policies of the past.”
“However,” he continued, “I understand the urgency that our residents feel to tamp down on violent crime and protect our communities. And I plan on leveraging my experience to hit the ground running to fulfill the mayor’s vision for a safer Baltimore.”
Barksdale apologized to Harrison for past disparaging remarks and – although Harrison will now answer to him in the City Hall chain of command – pledged to work with the commissioner “in partnership.”
“I’m with him, and he’s with me,” Barksdale stated, reaching out and shaking Harrison’s hand.
A Bat and a Gun
Scott began the news conference by “lifting up” the shooting death of the motorist which police said took place at about 4:30 p.m. at the corner of Conway and Light streets.
Last night Scott issued a statement about the incident that occurred in a high-profile Inner Harbor location, with the city on pace for another record-setting year for homicides:
I want to be very clear – if you are on the streets of Baltimore and endanger the safety of others or turn to violence to solve your problems, we will hold you accountable.
Regardless of what caused this incident, it is a sad reminder that far too often easily avoidable confrontations escalate into acts of violence.
Through enforcement and engagement, we continue to work with BPD and other partners to deter young people and adults from being involved in conduct that puts lives at risk.
According to police, the incident occurred after an exchange between a squeegee worker and the motorist.
The motorist then reportedly drove through the intersection, parked on the other side of Light Street and got out of his car, wielding a baseball bat.
He walked toward the squeegee worker and was shot, police said. The man was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. Police identified the man this morning as 48-year-old Timothy Reynolds
Photos at the crime scene showed a baseball bat lying on the street in the intersection next to a pool of blood.
No arrest has been made so far. At today’s news conference, Harrison asked the public to assist with the investigation by providing information, tips or video.