After 31 years of public service — five as Baltimore City police commissioner — Fred Bealefeld III will retire in the summer, WBAL-TV 11 News has confirmed.
“This was a very tough decision for me and my family, but it’s now the right time for me to bring my career with the Baltimore Police Department to a close,” Bealefeld said in a statement released by the mayor’s office. “I am looking forward to enjoying retirement with my family and close friends.”
A senior aide to the mayor told the 11 News I-Team Thursday that Bealefeld will retire as of Aug. 1.
The aide said the mayor is saddened by the choice but respects Bealefeld’s decision. A national search will be conducted to find a replacement, the aide said.
“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,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement.
Bealefeld has served as the city’s police commissioner since then Mayor Sheila Dixon appointed him on Nov 20, 2007.
“I thought, at least externally in the crime-fighting, I thought the department was doing well. Administratively and internally, they had their issues, and it was becoming more and more difficult,” said Gary McLhinney, former chief of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police Department.
He is credited with achieving significant drops in the city’s notorious homicide numbers, and he’s well known for his candid straight-talk, using phrases like “bad guys with guns” and often referring to criminals as “knuckleheads.”
“I liked his no-nonsense approach to the job that he held,” said Maryanne Reynolds, a city resident. “I think he has really started moving Baltimore in the right way.”
Bealefeld has said that he has “made it his mission” to root out corruption within the Police Department. On his watch, Bealefeld has had to deal with stains on the department’s reputation, including a towing scandal last year, the conviction last month of an officer who sold heroine while on duty at a city police station and allegations this year about a rogue investigation organized by a suspended homicide detective who led the investigation into the death of Phylicia Barnes.