Darryl De Sousa became Baltimore’s new police commissioner Monday after a vote by the City Council. The 53-year-old career cop had enjoyed widespread support and breezed through the confirmation process since he was nominated last month by Mayor Catherine Pugh.
The Justice Department found that police in Baltimore routinely violated the constitutional rights of local residents, particularly in predominantly poor, black neighborhoods; used excessive force; mistreated protesters, youths and people with mental disabilities; and dismissed sexual assault complaints improperly, among other failings. The department now labors under a court-enforced consent decree that requires reforms.
“I thought it was very important that we make this leadership change in the police department,” Mayor Catherine Pugh said. “We’ve been working hard every single day to reduce violence in the city.”
City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young said he was “elated” Pugh decided to promote from within the department.
“This man, he gets it. He came up through the ranks,” Young said. “He has the confidence of the officers on the street, because he was a beat officer.”
Comptroller Joan Pratt called De Sousa’s tenure a “new era” in Baltimore policing.
“We must demand accountability from the department now and in the future,” she said.
The Baltimore City Council voted 14-1 to confirm De Sousa on Monday. The 53-year-old career officer has enjoyed widespread support and breezed through the confirmation process since Pugh nominated him last month.
Councilman Ryan Dorsey, who represents Northeast Baltimore, cast the lone dissenting vote. He said he did so, in part, because De Sousa had not made public any internal affairs records from his 30-year career in the department.
De Sousa has faced questions about his role in two fatal shooting incidents in 1995.
Moments before Monday night’s council vote, Pugh said on Twitter that she had reviewed all of the internal files on De Sousa and “can confirm that any allegation involving misconduct of any kind … is unsubstantiated.”