BALTIMORE, Md. (WJZ)– Howard County is starting a new chapter. After more than a decade in office, Sheriff James Fitzgerald will resign amidst swirling allegations of racism and intimidation.
County executive Allan Kittleman tells WJZ Howard County is ready to heal.
“The people of Howard County had completely lost their trust in our sheriff, and we needed to make sure we could bring that trust back. And the only way to do that was for the sheriff to leave,” said Kittleman.
Fitzgerald was nearly forced out after a searing report from the county’s office of human rights revealed what allegedly happened behind closed doors for years: racial slurs, sexist jokes, retaliatory firings, harassment and much more.
Fitzgerald has not responded to WJZ’s repeated request for comment.
Sheriff Fitzgerald is a Democrat, but was pressured by both Republicans and members of his own party to step down. After a full month of refusing to let go of his position, Howard County Council Chair Calvin Ball tells WJZ Sheriff Fitzgerald decided to retire.
“I think it was a very difficult decision that he made, but I think that he recognized this was what was best for our community,” said Ball.
Howard County is one of the most diverse in the country and residents, like Larry Walker, have made it clear, there’s no room for intolerance.
“He reflects and old mentality that is not a part of who we are today and where we’re going in the future,” said Walker.
The future is now the focus for a community now rebuilding trust in law enforcement. WJZ reached out to Governor Hogan’s office this morning and he has not revealed his timeline for replacing Sheriff Fitzgerald.
Whomever replaces the sheriff will serve until the next election.