BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Fort Worth Police said Joel Fitzgerald removed his name from consideration to be Baltimore’s next police commissioner Monday, due to his son’s health.
The search for Baltimore’s next top cop stalled Monday morning. In a stunning twist, the top candidate withdrew his application for the job in the middle of the confirmation process.
Fitzgerald says he will stay in Texas because his son is facing health problems.
The Fort Worth police chief was nominated as Baltimore’s next police commissioner by Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh on November 16, 2018.
In a statement, Fitzgerald said he will now focus on his child’s next brain surgery and being home with family.
Mayor Pugh says she’s been meeting with her team on Monday to name a new nominee for the job, but what she hasn’t said, is how long that may take, as the city now approaches nine months without a permanent police commissioner.
On the very day Fitzgerald was scheduled to be in Baltimore for the next step in the confirmation process to become city police commissioner here, a stunning announcement came via twitter.
He no longer wants the job.
Fitzgerald followed the tweet with a more detailed statement. Explaining his decision is tied to sudden health problems for his son, who will have emergency brain surgery Tuesday.
“We just need to let the situation with his family play out, that’s just the respectful thing to do, and then just sit down and want to make sure there’s commitment to Fort Worth for a long tenure,” said David Cooke, Fort Worth city manager.
The sudden change in plans leaves leaders in two cities to figure out what happens now.
The news comes after Fitzgerald canceled an appearance in Baltimore this past weekend due to a medical emergency involving his son.
“After a lengthy discussion with Chief Joel Fitzgerald, I respect his decision to withdraw his candidacy for Baltimore Police Commissioner in order to devote his full attention to his son who is now facing a second brain surgery tomorrow to remove a mass that was discovered late last week. Our fervent prayers are with him and his family during what is unquestionably a troubling and stressful period for them,” Pugh said. “In the meantime, Interim Commissioner Gary Tuggle is on the job and very ably managing the day-to-day affairs of the Baltimore Police Department, along with his command staff. I will, of course, be communicating further on the process to select Baltimore’s permanent Police Commissioner.”
The Fraternal Order of Police also responded to Fitzgerald’s withdrawal:
Mayor Pugh wrote in a statement to WJZ that she will be “communicating further on the process to select Baltimore’s permanent police commissioner.”
Pugh scheduled a press conference for Monday afternoon, but then suddenly cancelled it. So there are still many questions surrounding that process.