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Former Baltimore police commissioner hopeful Joel Fitzgerald faces new questions of commitment back in Texas

The Baltimore Sun

New Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison may be busy this week shaking up the department’s organizational structures, but it was only about three months ago that Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald was still in the running for the job.

Fitzgerald dropped out of consideration in January following a medical emergency with his son. And now that he’s back to work in Texas, Fitzgerald is facing questions over his commitment to his current position, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is reporting.

Before Fitzgerald was considered for Baltimore’s top cop, he repeatedly asked for raises to his Fort Worth salary above scheduled performance-based increases. The chief reportedly sought a raise from his $217,000 annual salary to $255,000, a figure that would have made him higher paid than chiefs in Austin and Dallas, the Star-Telegram reported Tuesday.

Some Fort Worth leaders have told the Star-Telegram their faith in Fitzgerald is shaken and that the chief will have to show a renewed commitment to residents, police officers and city employees.

On Thursday, Fitzgerald reportedly told Star-Telegram media partner WFAA Channel 8 he would “like to stay here for the rest of my career.”

“I made the mistake already of, you know, entertaining something else,” he reportedly said. “I’m happy here. I just want the same commitment, you know, that I’m willing to give.”

Fitzgerald withdrew from consideration in Baltimore shortly after The Baltimore Sun revealed in January that portions of his resume overstated his achievements since becoming police chief in Fort Worth in October 2015.

The police chief initially declined to release his resume to the public, only for Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh to share it once she formally submitted his name to the City Council.

In one case on the resume, he misrepresented his role in the Fort Worth Police Department’s body camera program. In another, he painted a rosier picture of his results in bringing down crime than FBI data reflects. And Fitzgerald credited himself with improving reporting on racial profiling, even though a new Texas law required the efforts.

Before coming to Fort Worth, Fitzgerald had a long career in the Philadelphia Police Department and was later chief in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Missouri City, Texas.

Harrison, former superintendent for the New Orleans Police Department, was formally sworn in as Baltimore’s 41st police commissioner in March.

Baltimore Sun reporter Ian Duncan and Jessica Anderson contributed to this article.

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