By Pat Warren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore officials and police were in a hearing Thursday about progress in the city’s agreement with the justice department to reform the way the department operates.

In April 2017, the justice department ordered sweeping reforms in the Baltimore Police Department after finding police in violation of the constitutional rights of civilians.

Former commissioner Kevin Davis, who was fired in January, was replaced by Darryl DeSousa, who resigned in May after being charged with failing to file his taxes between 2013 and 2015. The position is now held in an interim capacity by Gary Tuggle.

“Every day as the leader of the organization, I’m making decisions, I’m not giving decision paralysis and we’re going to move the ball forward,” said Tuggle.

But the judge overseeing reforms, U.S. District Judge James Bredar, expressed concern about the turnover at the top.

City Solicitor Andre Davis said the search for a permanent commissioner is underway.

“We’re going to find the right person as I said to the judge, to lead us out of the wilderness, cause we are in the wilderness,” he said.

Judge Bredar cited the way residents were locked down during the search for evidence in the death of Officer Sean Suiter killed in Harlem Park last fall as a failure of the department to implement policy.

The judge also raised civilian oversight as critical to success, empowering the civilian review board that would require legislative action in Annapolis.

“We can all go to Annapolis and make the change happen,” Davis said. “If Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker [Michael] Busch believe the change is in the best interest of Baltimore City,
and if it’s in the best interest of Baltimore City, it’s in the best interest of Maryland.”

This was the second public hearing on the process of implementing police reforms.

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