BALTIMORE (WJZ) — After a little more than 70 days on the job, Darryl De Sousa has resigned as Baltimore Police Commissioner amid federal tax charges.
The decision came just days after De Sousa was suspended for being federally charged for not filing his taxes.
The 53-year-old was charged with three misdemeanor counts of failure to file a U.S. tax return for three consecutive years. He faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $25,000 fine for each of the three counts.
It’s a shakeup that has definitely left a lot of heads spinning. While top city leadership assures the move won’t be a setback, others can’t help but wonder if there isn’t more that could come to light in the coming days.
In February, De Sousa sat down with WJZ to express his eagerness to get down to business as Baltimore City’s 40th police commissioner.
“I move quick. The pace I move in is really expedited,” he said.
De Sousa, a 30-year veteran of the Baltimore Police Department, moved into the role following the firing of former commissioner Kevin Davis in January.
Now 76 days after taking the job, De Sousa has resigned.
The move comes days after he was federally charged for not filing his taxes for 2013, 2014 and 2015.
De Sousa apologized and was eventually suspended by Mayor Catherine Pugh, who placed him on paid suspension.
Gary Tuggle has been appointed as acting commissioner, but Pugh says a national search has begun to find the new police commissioner.
“It’s sad for him, it’s sad for the city. it’s a distraction away from what we need right now,” Councilman Brandon Scott said.
WJZ’s Rick Ritter tracked down Pugh for additional comment after issuing a statement saying she had accepted the resignation.
[Reporter: Can we get your thoughts on the resignation?]
“I’ve accepted his resignation. I’m running late,” she replied.
[Reporter: Were you surprised?]
“There are a lot of surprises,” Pugh said.
According to our media partner The Baltimore Sun, the case against De Sousa could get even worse.
The Sun reports federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas seeking information on De Sousa’s pay, taxes and travel dating back several years.
Councilman Brandon Scott said it’s up to the mayor’s office to ensure whoever ends up in the role is vetted thoroughly.
“The mayor’s office has to do that kind of stuff. They should be doing full-fledged background checks as if that person were running for president, and that did not happen,” Scott said.
He added that the structure of the department is broken and the city needs to learn from this mistake.
“We should be saying that we don’t want to approve any person until they commit to structural change. Until they commit to making a local agency, until they commit to having a board with civilian oversight,” Scott said.
The department is in desperate need of stability, with nine police commissioners since 2000 alone.
Several community activists say it’s a big blow, citing a reduction in violent crime under De Sousa’s watch.
“I thought the man was doing the best that a person could do in that chair,” Baltimore Ceasefire organizer Erricka Bridgeford said.
The Fraternal Order of Police says they hope the mayor finds a replacement quickly, adding that their members deserve consistency in their leadership.
Tuggle sent the following message to all Baltimore Police Department employees:
As I mentioned just the other day, my focus is on crime, the Consent Decree, and moving this agency forward. The sworn and civilian staff here have done a great job and the results of your hard work continues to show as we have seen across the board reductions in violent crime. We have a long way to go, but I know you are all up for the challenge.
Thank you for your professionalism during these tough times. We will succeed because you all are the professionals who keep our agency moving forward.
WJZ’s Rick Ritter contributed to this story.