Baltimore Mayor Pugh says 7-member panel will lead search for new police commissioner

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said Wednesday that she was forming a seven-member committee to help her search for a new police commissioner.

The mayor did not say who would serve on the panel and offered few other details three weeks after her handpicked top cop was forced to step down.

Commissioner Darryl De Sousa resigned on May 15 after he was charged with failing to file federal tax returns. Pugh named Deputy Commissioner Gary Tuggle interim commissioner. Tuggle, a former federal Drug Enforcement Administration agent, has expressed interest in being appointed in a permanent capacity.

Pugh has said she wants to conduct a “national search” for De Sousa’s successor. Pugh appointed De Sousa in January based on his performance at the multi-agency morning meetings Pugh began holding last year to drive down violence.

Pugh said Wednesday that she would consider Tuggle alongside others who have also already come forward.

Past mayors have used panels to search for commissioners. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake worked with a policing think tank to convene a group of city leaders.

Policing analysts have said Pugh would be wise to engage with the broader Baltimore community as she decides on who should lead the department. The mayor said Wednesday the hiring process will include a “listening tour.”

City Councilman Brandon Scott, chairman of the council’s public safety committee, said it made sense to have a panel helping the mayor make a decision, and he was encouraged that the community will have a voice in the process. Scott said he has been expecting the process to take several months. He has not anticipated it to conclude before the fall.

“These things take time,” Scott said.

De Sousa is accused of failing to file his federal tax returns for three years. He said in a statement that he didn’t file the returns, or his state returns, but has not formally entered a plea in court.

The mayor’s team faced questions about how De Sousa’s background was investigated before Pugh named him to lead the Police Department. Officials have not provided details about what steps they took, but have pledged to do a better job with future appointees.

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