The mayor's office announced this afternoon that Baltimore City Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, who has been on the force since 1981 and commissioner since 2007, will step down as of August 1, though he has agreed to stay to on during the transition.
In statements, both Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Bealefeld described the move as a "retirement," with the commissioner saying, "I am looking forward to enjoying retirement with my family and close friends.”
It may soon come out whether there is more to Bealefeld's decision to step down. For one thing, 49 is awfully young to retire. And "I want to spend more time with my family" has become the go-to explanation when someone doesn't want to explain why they're really resigning. The commissioner was hired by the previous mayor, Sheila Dixon, and it's possible Rawlings-Blake pushed him out. In 2010, I asked Rawlings-Blake if she had any intention of replacing him:
BM: Some have suggested that you might replace Commissioner Bealefeld since he was not your choice for chief.
SRB: So many times in government, people focus on the personality. 'That's not her commissioner. Can they work together?' One thing I learned for sure from my father is that it's about outcomes and accountability. He partnered with people that were against him, if it meant working for the greater good. I certainly have a good working relationship with Commissioner Bealefeld and I know that we'll be good partners for the progress of our city. But the accountability won't change. I said jokingly before, 'I think he's doing a great job, but if he takes my vote of confidence as a reason to start playing solitaire at his computer, it's not gonna work.' We have to stay focused.
But it's also possible that Bealefeld has grown weary from his job—undoubtedly one of the most stressful in town—and genuinely does want to spend more time with his family. In the Sun, reporter Justin Fenton recalled that he asked Bealefeld back in December what his future plans were. Mentioning the cop-on-cop shooting at the Select Lounge and the death of his father, the commissioner seemed to hint, in retrospect, that he might be nearing the end of his tenure.
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.
More details will likely come out in the coming days.