Baltimore Police Commissioner
, the longest-serving commissioner in the city's recent history and who oversaw steep declines in the city's murder rate, is stepping down, the mayor's office announced.
Bealefeld's retirement date is effective August 1, the sources said, but he still stay on and oversee a transition. A senior aide to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Bealefeld informed of her of his decision today and said he wanted to spend more time with his family.
Bealefeld could not immediately be reached for comment.
In a statement issued by the mayor's office, he said:
Bealefeld was appointed by then-
in 2007, amid an upswing that had murders in Baltimore headed towards more than 300 for the first time since the 1990s. But the city was able to stem the killings, and during Bealefeld's nearly five-year tenure, the murder count dipped below 200 for the first time since the 1970s. He also publicly disavowed "zero tolerance" policing policies, and arrests in Baltimore - which peaked at 110,000 in 2005 - were less than 50,000 last year.
He also recently recruited two outsiders to oversee training and Internal Affairs.
But he also had to navigate the department through some of its toughest chapters, including the fatal accidental shooting of an officer by fellow officers outside the Select Lounge. An independent commission was appointed to review the case and recommend reforms, which the agency is working to implement.
The announcement that Bealefeld would be stepping down caught many off-guard. He attended a community meeting earlier this week, and appeared at a news conference Wednesday with Rawlings-Blake to install a new surveillance camera in Northeast Baltimore.
In late December, asked about his future, Bealefeld didn't say whether he intended to stay on for the forseeable future.
"Look," he said. "The past year has been tough. You talk about Select Lounge. I lost a great friend; my father just passed away. It's been a very, very difficult year," he said, before turning the conversation to cultivating a new generation of leaders for the department.
Baltimore State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein said Bealefeld will go down as “one of the best police commissioners” the city has ever had.
“He’s been a tremendous public servant and he is a person who really lived and breathed Baltimore, and he gave it his all. He worked that job 24/7, and he was fully committed to trying to make Baltimore a safer place,” Bernstein said.