BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Fort Worth, Texas police chief has been selected as Baltimore’s next police commissioner, Mayor Catherine Pugh confirmed Friday.
Mayor Pugh released in part this statement in an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun on Friday:
“With the selection of Joel Fitzgerald as the next police commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department, I am convinced that we have a unique opportunity to build on our progress to reduce violence and accelerate our efforts to create a safer city and re-establish community trust in those sworn to protect and serve,” -Mayor Pugh
According to our media partners the Baltimore Sun, Fitzgerald would have to be confirmed by the City Council, but Pugh said he will start work as acting commissioner after Thanksgiving.
A statement from Fort Worth City Manager Cooke said that they have been notified that Fitzgerald is the final candidate for the BPD commissioner job.
They said at this time Fitzgerald has not submitted a formal letter of resignation from his current chief of police job.
Baltimore City’s police union said they were not asked to be a part of the search and therefore cannot weigh in.
Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Mancuso released a statement following the official announcement Friday:
“Along with the citizens of Baltimore, our membership learned of the appointment of Chief Joel Fitzgerald as our new Police Commissioner through local media accounts late this afternoon. We were not asked to be a part of the search for this important position and as a result, know only as much about Chief Fitzgerald as can be found via a web search. As such, we cannot speak to his appointment; however, myself and members of our FOP leadership intend to perform our own due diligence when we travel to Fort Worth, Allentown and Philadelphia over the next week to meet with union officials, and other law enforcement officers, in each of these cities,”
There had been rumors swirling around Baltimore in October that Fitzgerald would be filling the commissioner slot, but they were shut down by Mayor Pugh, saying she was planning on announcing a final decision by the end of October.
The mayor said in a statement Friday that Fitzgerald has “demonstrated strong leadership traits while being instrumental in leading the agencies he has overseen,”
Fitzgerald became chief of police of the Fort Worth Police Department in October 2015. During his time in Fort Worth, Fitzgerald endured scrutiny over a leak of body camera footage and questions about morale under his lead.
Fitzgerald would inherit a department in the midst of several scandals rocking the department, as well as violence that is expected to exceed more than 300 murders this year.
He is replacing Darryl De Sousa who resigned his position back in May after facing charges for failing to file his taxes for three years.
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 2018. De Sousa resigned 76 days after taking the job.
Garry Tuggle was appointed as acting commissioner but removed his name from consideration for the top spot.
The city police department received more than 50 applications for the job.
The top spot at the police department has been unstable for quite some time — 10 police commissioners since 1989.
This story is developing.