Joel Fitzgerald, the Baltimore mayor’s choice to become the city’s next police commissioner, has withdrawn from consideration, the Baltimore Sun reports. The move comes after one of Fitzgerald’s sons suffered a medical emergency that led Mayor Catherine Pugh’s team to cancel a round of public meetings and his appearance at a City Council hearing. It means more uncertainty for a police department that has been without a permanent leader since May, when Darryl De Sousa resigned after being charged with failing to file federal tax returns.
Pugh chose Fitzgerald, the police chief in Fort Worth, Tx., on Nov. 16, after months of searching. His public rollout was bumpy from the beginning. He was not in Baltimore when he was named. Then he announced that he would continue in his Fort Worth job until the Baltimore City Council voted on whether to confirm him as commissioner. Council members raised questions about an opaque process that led to Fitzgerald’s selection, and he initially declined to release his resume. Four council members announced they wouldn’t support him unless Pugh shared the results of a background check, and they ultimately were shown a redacted version of an investigation report. After Pugh the resume was released, the Sun and The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa., found he overstated his accomplishments as chief in both Fort Worth in Allentown, including misrepresenting his role in the introduction of body cameras in those cities. The Baltimore Police Department has had 10 police commissioners since 1989. The path forward for the mayor and the police department is unclear. Police continue to battle high levels of violent crime at the same time the department embarks on the second phase of implementing a civil rights decree. Gary Tuggle, a former Drug Enforcement Administration official, has been leading the department as an interim commissioner.