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A year after Kevin Davis was fired, here's how Baltimore got to this point in police commissioner search

In January of last year, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh announced she was firing city police Commissioner Kevin Davis.

Though Davis’s successor, Darryl D. De Sousa, sailed through his confirmation process, after just months on the job he resigned amid charges he failed to file his tax returns.

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In contrast to De Sousa, Pugh’s next pick for top cop faced a bumpier road. Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald was met with skepticism over his record in Texas and elsewhere.

On Monday, Fitzgerald withdrew from consideration after his 13-year-old suffered a medical emergency that require two rounds of brain surgery. Then the next day, Pugh announced that she was nominating New Orleans police superintendent Michael Harrison as Baltimore’s top cop.

But nearly a year after Davis’s firing, the city still lacks a permanent police chief. Below, a look at how we got here.

2018

Jan. 19: Mayor Catherine Pugh fired Baltimore’s top cop Kevin Davis, saying she had grown “impatient” his inability to stem the historic pace of killings in the city. The previous year had just ended with a 343 homicides, a per-capital record.

Pugh named Deputy Commissioner Darryl D. De Sousa, the top commander in the Police Department’s patrol bureau, as Davis’ replacement.

Feb. 26: De Sousa, a career officer, breezed through the confirmation process after being nominated. The Baltimore City Council confirmed De Sousa as Baltimore’s new police commissioner with a 14-1 vote.

May 10: Federal prosecutors charged De Sousa with three misdemeanor counts of failing to file federal taxes. Mayor Pugh initially expressed “full confidence” in De Sousa.

May 11: Reversing course, Pugh announced she was suspending De Sousa with pay pending the resolution of the tax charges.

May 15: De Sousa resigned amid revelations that federal prosecutors were probing deeper into his past. Pugh announced a national search for his replacement and appointed Deputy Commissioner Gary Tuggle as interim commissioner.

Oct. 9: After initially expressing his interest in the job, Tuggle withdrew his name from consideration for the position of permanent police commissioner.

Oct. 19: A Baltimore-based Twitter account posted a photo of Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald with the caption: “The mayor's pick for Baltimore's next commissioner #JoelFitzgerald.”

Asked if Fitzgerald was leaving for Baltimore, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price told a reporter: "It appears he has taken the police chief spot in Baltimore. He's done a good job in Fort Worth, and I wish him the best in this new position."

Pugh said she was still vetting candidates for the city’s next police commissioner and would not confirm Fitzgerald was her pick, nor that he was being considered for the position.

Oct. 24: After previously stating that she wanted to have a candidate picked by Halloween, Pugh said was no longer guaranteeing she would nominate a new police commissioner by the end of the month.

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Nov. 17: Following a secretive search, Pugh announced that Fitzgerald would be the next Baltimore police commissioner, pending approval by the City Council.

Dec. 18: De Sousa pleaded guilty to three counts of failing to file his federal tax returns. He faces as much as three years in prison and a $300,000 fine when he is sentenced in March.

2019

Jan. 3: An investigation by The Baltimore Sun found that Fitzgerald overstated and misrepresented some of his accomplishments in a resume submitted in his bid to become Baltimore police commissioner.

Fitzgerald postponed plans to come to Baltimore for a round of public hearings after his son suffered a medical emergency.

Jan. 5: At one city council hearing, residents expressed their frustrations over the selection process. Some urged the city council to reject the nomination and force the mayor to start the selection process over.

Jan. 7: Fitzgerald withdrew his name from consideration for the position of Baltimore’s police commissioner because of his son’s medical condition.

Jan. 8: Pugh announces she is nominating New Orleans police superintendent Michael Harrison as next police commissioner.

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