Mayor Catherine Pugh is on the lookout for a new police commissioner – launching a national search, she said – after accepting the resignation of Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa who she appointed just five months ago.
“As mayor, I will not let up in pursuing my top priority of making our city safe and our neighborhoods worthy of the lives of all residents,” Pugh said today after disclosing news that took few in Baltimore by surprise:
De Sousa will no longer lead the scandal-plagued department, now that he himself was charged federally last week with failing to file his income tax returns three years in a row.
In addition to his admission of the lapse in a public statement, De Sousa also remains shadowed by federal prosecutors’ disclosure that they are are looking at “additional violations of federal criminal law.”
Police officials said there would be no response today to the disclosure that grand jury subpoenas were issued seeking information about De Sousa’s second jobs, taxes and other affairs as a BPD employee.
Interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle released a memo to staff thanking them for “your professionalism during these tough times.”
Tuggle as Interim
While the search for a replacement moves forward, Pugh said the city’s law enforcement initiatives would move forward as well.
“I want to reassure all Baltimoreans that this development in no way alters our strategic efforts to reduce crime by addressing its root causes in our most neglected neighborhoods,” she said in a media statement.
The Pugh administration also announced today Tuggle’s new designation as “interim” leader of the BPD.
Last week, on his first day as acting commissioner, Tuggle had his own paperwork lapse, misstating his place of residence twice on a city ethics statement, as The Brew reported.
Tuggle, a retired senior supervisor at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, started as a deputy commissioner under De Sousa in early April.
A Rising Star Falls
De Sousa’s resignation represents the end of a dramatic walk-back of the mayor’s original stance upon learning of the tax charges.
Prosecutors had disclosed on Thursday that De Sousa was being charged with failure to file returns for 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Pugh first said she had “full confidence” in De Sousa, but on Friday suspended him with pay.
Today, the 53-year-old was out for good.
It has been a sharp reversal of fortune for a career cop who was, it seemed, being groomed for job of commissioner.
When the 30-year veteran got an internship with the International Association of Chiefs of Police, for example, insiders took it as a sure sign he was on a high-trajectory career path.
After Pugh fired Kevin Davis in January, De Sousa’s candidacy as his replacement sped through the City Hall confirmation process, despite public calls for a go-slow approach.
His appointment was approved by the City Council in a 14-1 vote, with Ryan Dorsey the only dissenter.
At the public hearing leading up to the vote, Council members had words of praise and encouragement for De Sousa, leaving it to citizens to raise issues from his past, such as his fatal 1995 shooting of Garrett “Scooter” Jackson.
Amid persistent rumors about De Sousa’s actions as a police officer, BPD officials denied media requests for the release of his internal affairs file during the confirmation process.