As 2012 began, the number of people killed in Baltimore had dropped below 200 victims in a year for the first time since the 1970s, the lowest population-adjusted murder rate since the late 1980s. While critics could (and did) attribute the drop to everything from trauma care to the weather, it's undeniable that the trend began when Frederick H. Bealefeld III took control of the agency in 2007, with the murder rate rising. Bealefeld decided to hang up his hat earlier this year. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake went outside the agency for his successor: Anthony W. Batts, who was sitting on the sidelines after a successful three decade career in Long Beach and an uneven stint in Oakland. Batts is still diagnosing the agency, but has been promoting foot beats, opening up a commanders' meeting to the public, and talking gangs as the city's murder rate jumped after two consecutive years of declines. Expect more changes to the agency in the new year.
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