Baltimore seeks 'can-do, reform minded' police commissioner in job listing

—Mayor Catherine E. Pugh, left, along with interim Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Gary Tuggle, right, talks with the media at City Hall about the city’s partnership with federal agencies to fight crime this summer.
—Mayor Catherine E. Pugh, left, along with interim Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Gary Tuggle, right, talks with the media at City Hall about the city’s partnership with federal agencies to fight crime this summer. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said Wednesday she’s been impressed by acting Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle — but is nevertheless collecting resumes from “across the country” from candidates to be the city’s top cop.

Tuggle has been acting commissioner since May. He took over for Commissioner Darryl De Sousa, who stepped down after he was charged with failing to file federal tax documents. Tuggle has said he wants the job permanently.


“I’m confident in what he’s doing at this point. Absolutely,” Pugh said.

Homicides have declined 20 percent this year and violent crime is down 16 percent, the mayor noted.


Still, the mayor posted a job listing for a new police commissioner Tuesday — and she said applications are starting to come in.

“We’re getting resumes from all across the country,” the mayor said. She said she’s received between five and seven.

A new job announcement says the mayor is seeking “highly qualified applicants for a transformational leadership position.”

Last month, the mayor said she was planning to name a seven-member panel to help search for a new police chief. She pledged to conduct a “national search.”

On Wednesday, Pugh said that she was still setting up the panel.


“There’ll be a reviewing process,” she said. “I would hope within the next 60 to 90 days that we would know who the next police commissioner is.”

In the job announcement, the city says it is seeking “highly qualified applicants for a transformational leadership position.”

The city says an ideal candidate would be a “can-do, reform minded and proven leader with exceptional management, interpersonal, and communication skills and demonstrated experience in developing and maintaining effective working relationships with community and civic groups (including private-sector partners), police department employees and government leaders.”

The job listing comes as the judge who is overseeing the federally mandated reform of the Baltimore Police Department is expressing doubt that the department has the leadership ability or resources to implement needed changes.

In an order granting an extension to submit draft policies, U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar questioned whether the department will be able to comply with the federal consent decree the city signed with the Justice Department.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said she was forming a seven-member panel as she searches for a new police commissioner, but did not say who the group will be.

Bredar noted the department’s willingness to embrace change — something he says other cities have resisted — but he sharply criticized the turnover of police leadership and lack of resources. Tuggle is the third commissioner since the city signed the consent degree in 2016.

Bredar said those factors could hinder progress.

“A lack of consistent, strong leadership can have cascading ill effects throughout an agency; this is but one example of that,” Bredar wrote. “The Department’s good faith becomes almost irrelevant if they otherwise lack the leadership, resources and capacity to follow through and achieve compliance.”

Pugh said the department is working hard to improve.

“I think the judge is making a judgment, which he is entitled to do,” she said. “I think there are a lot shortcomings as it relates to where we need to be.”

City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young said he supports a broad search for police commissioner.

"Nothing against anybody, but I want to do a national search and find out who's out there," he said. “There might be a superstar.”

Young said he wants the mayor looking at a wide pool of candidates, but she can't "wait around too long."

"We need stability in the Baltimore Police Department," he said.

City Councilman Brandon Scott, chairman of the council’s public safety committee, said he is "just as pleased as the mayor is" to be receiving police commissioner applications from across the country.

"It shows people want to work in Baltimore and want Baltimore to succeed," he said.

Scott said Tuggle has appeared competent and responsive after stepping into the top cop role in a tough situation.

"But as of right now," he said, "it's up to the mayor to decide if he'll continue or not."

In the job listing, the city describes Baltimore as a city of “neighborhoods and contrasts” — emphasizing the wealth around the waterfront and the poverty in East and West Baltimore.

Before Baltimore can launch a national search for its next police commissioner, city leaders must decide what they most need in a candidate, analysts say. It won’t be easy, they say, in part because Baltimore has so many problems, and places so many unique demands on its top cop.

The city says the “Police Department and the Police Commissioner have broad support from the community, including its political leaders, and its business and professional communities.”

“In the wake of recent challenges, Baltimore offers its next Police Commissioner the support and opportunity to establish meaningful change processes that bring best police practices to this community and strengthen the police department,” the city says.

The position requires a bachelor’s degree and at least 10 years of “progressively responsible” law enforcement experience, including five as a supervisor. The city says a master’s degree in “criminal justice, police administration, business administration, or related field is strongly preferred.”

De Sousa, who took the job in January, had completed his bachelor’s degree in applied liberal studies from Morgan State University in December. He started at Morgan in 1983.

The city says it will also consider an “equivalent combination of education and experience that provides the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities to perform the job.”

Applications, including a cover letter, resume and five references, are due by Aug. 17 to City Solicitor Andre Davis.

Baltimore Sun reporters Talia Richman and Ian Duncan contributed to this article.