Anthony Batts, the recently terminated police chief in Baltimore, Maryland, told a gathering recently that his former officers “took a knee” after the unrest following the in-custody death of suspect Freddie Gray in an attempt to stymie his efforts at reform.
“They felt that I wasn’t standing up for them,” Batts said. “They want—anything they do—for the chiefs to stand up and say, ‘My guys are right.'”
Batts was speaking at a panel discussion at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg.
Batts said Washington, D.C., Police Chief Cathy Lanier recently faced a vote of no confidence from her officers, too, when she tried to implement changes in that department.
“Is this going to be the tactic, where police don’t feel supported, so they allow the crime rate to go up, and the reformers lose their job?” Batts asked.
Batts said he saw the riots coming but blamed resistance to his authority for the management of the various incidents involving clashes between residents and police.
“You could see the riots coming,” he said. “Those warnings were there. … During the time I was there, I was trying to change the organization to better align it with the community.”
Rank-and-file officers say Batts lacked leadership and the rank and file did not trust the chief enough to do their jobs.
Gene Ryan, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, said in May that police were more “more afraid of going to jail for doing their jobs properly than they are of getting shot on duty.”