Who is Baltimore police commissioner pick Joel Fitzgerald?

Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh has chosen Fort Worth police chief Joel Fitzgerald to be the city’s next police commissioner.

If confirmed by the City Council, Baltimore would become the fourth city in five years where he’s held the top police spot.

Here’s what we know about Fitzgerald:

» Fitzgerald’s police career began in 1992 with the Philadelphia Police Department. He was named chief of police in Missouri City, Texas, in 2009; served as chief of police in Allentown, Pa., beginning in December 2013; and in October 2015 became chief of the Fort Worth Police Department.

» In Fort Worth, Fitzgerald has endured controversy. After the leak of body-camera footage in a police-brutality case led to the reassignment of two high-ranking police commanders in 2017, two local ministers called for Fitzgerald's removal, according to the Fort Worth Fox affiliate.

Also in 2017, a survey of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association showed 84 percent of respondents indicating morale in the department had declined during Fitzgerald's tenure, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

“It is very clear that the officers in this department have significant concern of Chief Fitzgerald over the past two years,” Rick Van Houten, president of the Police Officers Association, told a news conference at the time, the newspaper reported.

One officer in Fort Worth died in the line of duty under Fitzgerald’s tenure. Garrett Hull was shot and killed in September 2018.

» While Fitzgerald worked as the top cop in Allentown, police overtime spending topped $2 million in 2014, and the city was hit with at least eight lawsuits alleging police misconduct.

Fitzgerald's son also went on trial during his time in Allentown for pointing a loaded gun at two undercover detectives. He was found not guilty.

Under Fitzgerald’s watch, the Allentown Police Department was plagued by complaints of police brutality, and viral videos of an officer wrestling a street singer to the ground led to public protests, the Morning Call reported.

In early 2015, Allentown relaunched a police ride-along program for the first time in years, according to the Morning Call. And in 2017, the department implemented the use of body cameras.

» Fitzgerald was born in Philadelphia in 1971. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Villanova University, earned master’s of business administration from Eastern University and received a doctorate of business administration from Northcentral University. Fitzgerald is married to Det. Pauline Fitzgerald. The couple has three children and three grandchildren.

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