Baltimore council to hold televised confirmation hearing on Police Commissioner De Sousa

The Baltimore City Council will hold a televised confirmation hearing for new Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa on Feb. 21.

De Sousa has been leading the department since last month, when the mayor ousted Kevin Davis over rising crime. But he needs the approval of the council to take over the job permanently.

City Councilman Robert Stokes, who is chairman of the executive appointments committee, scheduled the hearing on De Sousa for 5 p.m. The committee hearing will be the public’s only opportunity to offer in-person testimony to the council for and against De Sousa.

If the committee approves of him, De Sousa’s nomination would then advance to the full council for a vote, typically at the next scheduled meeting.

De Sousa, a 30-year veteran of the department, has said he plans to reorganize it and launch new units to try to reduce the violence in the city.

The new commissioner has received a generally warm welcome from council members. While he faces lingering questions about a pair of shootings he was involved in, no council members have indicated they plan to oppose him.

Stokes has called De Sousa an “excellent choice.”

At Monday’s City Council meeting, members also introduced a resolution calling on the General Assembly and the governor to give up formal control of the police department and hand it to city authorities.

While the mayor appoints the commissioner, bargains with the officers’ union and sets the department’s budget, the council and other local authorities can do little to directly make changes.

The Baltimore Police Department was established in the 19th century as a state agency. It is governed by the Public Local Laws of Baltimore City, which are enacted by the General Assembly.

The resolution, sponsored by Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and Public Safety Committee Chairman Brandon Scott, calls for the creation of a new board of police commissioners to oversee the department.

Baltimore Sun reporter Ian Duncan contributed to this article.

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