BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The appointment of acting Baltimore City Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa moves forward, meaning he is one step closer to getting the job for good.
Wednesday night, a confirmation hearing was held at City Hall, giving city leaders and members of the public a chance to voice their thoughts.
While most who spoke were in general support of the De Sousa, many made it a point to say they are holding him to a higher standard, especially in the face of recent scandals, specifically corruption that’s been seen within the BPD.
De Sousa was promoted by Mayor Catherine Pugh in January after she fired former Commissioner Kevin Davis.
“I’m impatient,” Pugh said. “We need violence reduction, we need the numbers to go down faster than they are… I believe that Commissioner De Sousa understands how important this is and how impatient I am and will now take the helm of the Baltimore Police Department.”
The hearing was an opportunity for the public to voice their opinions about De Sousa. It may be their only opportunity before he is confirmed.
“To be honest with you, there’s a lot of work to be done,” he said.
Last year Baltimore saw a record breaking number of homicides per capita at 342. Earlier this year Baltimore went almost two weeks without a homicide and De Sousa has said crime reduction is his number one priority.
“Secondly, my plan is to immediately put more uniformed police officers on the streets… I have a real strong message for the trigger pullers, that we’re coming after them,” De Sousa said at a January press conference. “It’s going to be accelerated pace, the district commanders in all nine districts know who they are, and we’re coming after them. And I want to let everybody know it’s going to be done in a constitutional manner.”
Confidence in the Baltimore Police Department is at a new low after two former members of the Gun Trace Task Force were found guilty of robbery and racketeering. Six other former members plead guilty.
“You can’t clean a dirty floor with a filthy mop,” one person said.
De Sousa said that weeding out corrupt officers will be one of his top priorities.
“I’m going to put my best foot forward to fight the corruption within the police department, I realized in listening to the testimony that everyone is going to hold me accountable, deservedly right and they should I’m not going to let anybody down.”
He has introduced plans for random integrity and polygraph testing and created a new anti-corruption unit to probe the activities of multiple officers and supervisors whose names came up in the trial.
“It was like Mike Tyson shot to the stomach for just me and other folks in the city and the police department. It was the most awful thing I’ve seen in my 30 years in the police department.”
However, De Sousa has enjoyed widespread praise.
The Fraternal Order of Police called him a “breath of fresh air”.
And with Baltimore’s notorious crime problem, he’s vowed to put more officers in neighborhoods, eliminate guns, and target criminals.
“So our goal is really to zero in on those specific folks, and we don’t want to zone in on a community, we want to zone in on a person,” De Sousa said.
The acting police commissioner is a 30-year veteran of the department.
De Sousa’s nomination was approved by the five-member committee, it will now advance to the full council. A final vote could be as early as next week.