What they're saying about the resignation of Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa

Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa resigned Tuesday over federal charges of failure to file his tax returns. He was charged last week with three misdemeanor counts, and he faces up to a year in prison and a $25,000 fine for each charge.

Here’s what Baltimore leaders are saying about his resignation:

» Interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle sent a memo to the department: “My focus is on crime, the Consent Decree, and moving this agency forward. The sworn and civilian staff here have done a great job and the results of your hard work continues to show as we have seen across the board reductions in violent crime. We have a long way to go, but I know you are all up for the challenge.Thank you for your professionalism during these tough times. We will succeed because you all are the professionals who keep our agency moving forward.”

» Gene Ryan, president of the city police union: “The men and women of the Baltimore Police Department are aware of the resignation of Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa today. We are anxious to put these events behind us and hope that Mayor Pugh can quickly find a suitable replacement. Our members deserve consistency in their leadership; however, as they are all highly trained professional law enforcement personnel, they will stay fully mission focused in the interim.”

» Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby: “We remain focused on our mission to make Baltimore safer and we will work with Interim Commissioner Tuggle and the BPD to make this transition as seamless as possible."

» Sen. Bill Ferguson: "It was the right thing to do. There was no alternative. There's nothing more important in the city right now than getting the right person in place."

» Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott: “I think it’s a sad and disappointing day for the City of Baltimore. … We had so much promise. And for me, you know I held [De Sousa] to a higher standard than any previous police commissioner because this is someone that we knew understood the totality of this city and the totality of this moment. … I know that he’s ashamed and that this is a moment where we have to learn.”

» The Rev. Andrew Foster Connors, of BUILD Baltimore, the influential nonprofit group of church leaders and activists: “It certainly doesn’t move things forward. He hasn’t been there long enough to be able to change anything.”

BUILD had called on De Sousa to overhaul internal affairs, train officers on constitutional policing methods and increase foot patrols in violent neighborhoods. De Sousa won further support from BUILD leaders when he admitted publicly the police departments problems went beyond “a few bad apples,” as he had previously said. “He apologized for using that language,” Foster Connors said. “That was encouraging to us at the beginning of our relationship.”

» Peter Moskos, a former Baltimore police officer who is now a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York: “This can’t be good. It means more chaos. It means more lack of leadership. I mean, you need a strong leader who can stick around and have a vision and get things done. Who knows when there will be another commissioner and whether the commissioner will be good? It’s another punch.”

Moskos said a permanent replacement won’t be found quickly. “They got to make it a short process that still involves thorough vetting. The idea of having a national search, now we’re talking months.”

» Brendan Walsh, a longtime West Baltimore poverty worker, had raised questions about old shootings in De Sousa’s career as an officer. He said he was disappointed members of the City Council didn’t question De Sousa more about the shootings during his confirmation hearing in February.

“He made a good choice to resign,” Walsh said. “I would equate the tax things with the shootings he was involved in as being quite serious. … I don’t think there was any real vetting that went on there.” Walsh added, “It does come at a bad time to have another commissioner go.”

» A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore declined to comment on the resignation. De Sousa will continue to face charges in federal court.

» Barbara F. Jackson, 74, president of the Frankford Improvement Association Coalition of Communities, knew De Sousa when he previously served as the commander of the Northeast District.

“As far as his policing, he was top cop. I was highly surprised and shocked when I heard,” of the federal charges, she said.

While she praised his work in the district, she also expressed concerns that he did not properly file ethics forms. Records maintained by Baltimore’s Board of Ethics do not show disclosures for De Sousa filed in 2014, 2017 or 2018. He did file in 2015 and 2016, the records show.

“Unfortunately, that was not done as carefully as it should have. If it had, it would not be this embarrassment for him or the city,” Jackson said. She said the city’s ethics board should have taken action previously.

“I wish him well and his family,” she said.

tprudente@baltsun.com

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