In a resume that was part of his application, Baltimore police commissioner nominee Joel Fitzgerald pitched himself as a reformer and an effective crime fighter. But in the document, Fitzgerald overstates some of his achievements as police chief in Fort Worth, Texas.
One meeting about Fitzgerald is not postponed, however. The City Council will hear testimony Saturday from the public about his nomination in the council chambers from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., as scheduled.
Councilman Brandon Scott, chairman of the public safety committee, said he sympathized with Fitzgerald’s situation.
“Children are parents’ most precious value,” Scott said. “I certainly understand that Dr. Fitzgerald wants to be with his son.”
Lester Davis, a spokesman for Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, said Young’s “heart sank” when he heard the news.
“He’s praying for the Fitzgerald family,” Davis said.
Fitzgerald did not respond to requests Thursday afternoon for comment. A spokeswoman for Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said she was unaware of the surgery and referred additional questions to Fitzgerald.
Some Baltimore community leaders said they are disappointed they won’t meet Fitzgerald this weekend and emphasized that citizens need a say in the confirmation process.
“The process cannot go forward unless there is public input,” said Ashiah Parker, interim director of the West Baltimore No Boundaries Coalition.
Parker said she had hoped to hear from Fitzgerald about his plans for community engagement, safety and structuring his administration.
“There are a lot of question marks. I’m looking at his resume and I don’t think he’s worked in a department comparable to Baltimore,” she said, adding that Baltimore has its unique challenges.
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Eric Stephenson, head of the Sandtown South Neighborhood Alliance, said he has questioned the “inclusivity” of the commissioner search. He praised the City Council for its “thorough” vetting of Fitzgerald, and said he had planned to go to the meet-and-greet events with the nominee. Stephenson said properly vetting Fitzgerald is essential.
“I think it’s absolutely the most important thing that the right choice is made here,” he said. “It’s concerning that the department seems under a holding pattern, but I think it’s much more important that we get this right.”