Baltimore (maybe) has a new police commissioner

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Joel Fitzgerald. Image via the Forth Worth Police Department.

Forth Worth’s police commissioner, Joel Fitzgerald, is reportedly leaving his post to become the top cop in Baltimore, according to reports out of the Texas city.

Mayor Betsy Price made that announcement to local media this morning.

When Mayor Catherine Pugh was reached by The Sun this morning, however, she would not confirm the appointment.  Pugh’s press secretary, James Bentley, told Baltimore Fishbowl, “The process is still underway and no decision has been made as of yet.”

According to the a report this afternoon from The Sun, Price was apparently commenting on a tweet from the Baltimore-based media watchdog account @bmoreprojects on Thursday night that said Fitzgerald was the pick. A spokesperson for the mayor said Price was shown the tweet and responded, “It appears he has taken the police chief spot in Baltimore.”

Local community activist Kinji Scott, who had reportedly posted about Fitzgerald on social media, told the paper Pugh called him and “confirmed that this is the guy she picked and she would have to go with someone else now that the information is out.”

A spokesman for Forth Worth police, Sgt. Chris Britt, told Baltimore Fishbowl Fitzgerald has not accepted any other positions.

Fitzgerald has held the top spot in the Forth Worth department since 2015, according to a staff biography. Previously, the Philadelphia native had served as police chief in Allentown, Pennsylvania, a position he held for less than two years.

If confirmed by the Baltimore City Council, Fitzgerald would be the fourth police commissioner just this year. Pugh fired Kevin Davis of this year. His replacement, Darryl De Sousa, resigned after being federally charged for failing to file his tax returns. A De Sousa deputy, Gary Tuggle, was elevated to the role of acting commissioner. After saying he wanted to take over on a permanent basis, Tuggle recently withdrew his name from consideration, saying he could not stay with the department for the “five to seven years” it would take to turn it around.

Several local politicians were not pleased to be learning about Fitzgerald’s reported appointment from media out of Texas. City Councilman Issac “Yitzy” Schleifer tweeted out mock thanks to Mayor Price, and City Councilman Brandon Scott, the chair of the public safety committee, tweeted links to more forthcoming confirmation processes in the cities of Los Angeles and Seattle. State Sen. Bill Ferguson posted a note on Facebook questioning the process and saying the city “deserves better.”

This post has been updated.

Brandon Weigel

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