FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald is the sole finalist to be the new Baltimore Police Commissioner and is expected to be taking that job.
The Fort Worth Mayor’s Office in October told CBS 11 they had heard Fitzgerald was offered the job with the Baltimore Police Department, but had not heard from the Chief himself that he was leaving.
Fitzgerald has been with FWPD since 2015 and is the first African-American to head the department.
The Baltimore Sun newspaper reported last month Fitzgerald was a top candidate for the commissioner’s position and the city’s mayor, Catherine E. Pugh, only said they were still vetting candidates.
Mayor Pugh said Friday she had indeed chosen Fitzgerald for the position.
Chief Fitzgerald has had some difficulties during his tenure in Fort Worth, including questions about how a disciplined officers in high profile cases.
The Fort Worth Police Officers Association released a survey that showed morale had dipped during his time in Fort Worth.
But Baltimore Mayor Pugh said Friday Fitzgerald understands the need for reform in Baltimore.
In an op-ed published Friday afternoon on The Baltimore Sun’s website, Mayor Pugh said she believed Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald is “best suited to lead the way forward.” She wrote that he has led a large police department and is “well versed on training and community engagement.”
The Mayor said Fitzgerald will be acting Police Commissioner after Thanksgiving but will have to be formally confirmed by the Baltimore City Council.
Baltimore has had three people in that position in the last three years.
Assistant Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus will lead the department until a permanent replacement is selected.
Fort Worth community activist Rev. Kyev Tatum said in a statement:
Chief Joel Fitzgerald has changed the trajectory and culture of policing here in our beloved City of Fort Worth for the better. His vision and leadership for engaged community policing has created a roadmap towards reasonableness, trust and reconciliation within our city. While in our hearts we want him to stay, we can only wish him the very best as he continues to advance within his professional career. We ask the community to remain vigilant as our city leaders cautiously and wisely select his replacement.
Baltimore’s police union says it will send representatives to Fort Worth to find out more about Joel Fitzgerald. In a tweet, the union issued a statement saying it found out about Fitzgerald’s appointment through media reports and they were not asked to be a part of the search process.