BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In his first press conference, new Baltimore police commissioner Darryl De Sousa said he is rearranging the department and one of his first moves will be to crack down on officer misconduct. It was a somewhat confusing address to reporters, as while he explained what the department will look like under his leadership, he’d already changed his mind on one of two deputy commissioner spots to be filled.
He’s in. He’s out. He’s maybe in again. The confusing back-and-forth at Friday morning’s press conference leaves one of the two top spots in the department empty after just 24 hours earlier a chart was distributed to media outlets listing Thomas Cassella as the next Deputy Commissioner of Operations.
“During a subsequent background check, I discovered something that made me slow down that process and reconsider,” explained De Sousa. “Currently at this point, we’re not going to move forward.”
In his first round with reporters as the newly-appointed commissioner, De Sousa said he’s pulling back on Cassella’s appointment on the heels of a memo reportedly leaked to media outlets detailing past complaints against the 23-year veteran and now-retired officer. Then, police spokesperson TJ Smith said the leak is still under investigation and Cassella was not out of the running.
“The commissioner has not made a decision, so that’s the answer,” said Smith.
As they look into the legitimacy of the leaked document, the commissioner said they will also be watching their own.
“I cannot minimize the fact that there are corrupt cops. GTTF is awful. It sickens me to my stomach to see what occurred,” he said.
The once-elite gun task force consumed by corruption that was prosecuted federally is now the inspiration for a new “integrity division” which will police the police. It will include random integrity tests, along with random polygraph tests and the launching of an overtime abuse unit.
DeSousa emphasized his priorities now are eliminating police corruption while boosting the safety of the city.