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Baltimore police commissioner to retire

Frederick Bealefeld III, Baltimore’s police commissioner for five years who battled “bad guys with guns” in fighting crime in a violent city, is retiring Aug. 1, the mayor said Thursday.

Bealefeld, 49, decided now was the right time for him and his family to step down, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said. He has agreed to work on a succession plan, she said.

He has been with the 3,100-member force for 31 years.

“Commissioner Bealefeld has been a great public servant for the people of Baltimore throughout his entire career in the Baltimore Police Department, and we owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude,” she said in a statement. “While I am saddened to announce his retirement, I respect his decision to retire after decades of service to spend more time with his family. I know he loves the job and was proud to serve with honesty and integrity for these many years. He has been an extremely effective leader that we will miss, and we wish him the best retirement.”

Bealefeld could not immediately be reached for comment.

“I am very proud of the men and women of the BPD for all that we have been able to accomplish together over the last five years, and I am looking forward to enjoying retirement with my family and close friends,” Bealefeld said in an emailed statement from the mayor’s office.

He began as a foot patrol officer, rising through the ranks to become commissioner in 2007. Homicides in Baltimore dropped during his tenure, when he put his officers’ focus on guns and rejected a zero-tolerance policy for minor offenses that the department followed in the early 2000s. Last year, the city had 196 homicides, the lowest since 197 homicides were recorded in 1978.

“I consider possessing a gun on the streets of this city, illegally, a crime of violence,” Bealefeld said in 2010.

Bealefeld often stuck to his patrol roots, making an arrest on New Year’s Even in 2008, chasing two men firing shotguns up an alley, holding several people at gunpoint until backup arrived.

The city will begin a nationwide search for a successor.