New Baltimore police commissioner could be paid $260,000 — a significant increase, mayor says

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said Thursday she expects the new police commissioner could be paid about $260,000 a year — 25 percent more than what recent commissioners have made and a salary that would make him one of the city’s best-paid employees.

Pugh has chosen Fort Worth, Texas, police chief Joel Fitzgerald to lead the Baltimore Police Department.

Officials are in contract negotiations with him and he doesn’t plan to start work until after the Baltimore City Council votes in January on his nomination.

Pugh said in interviews that she is hoping to sign a five-year deal with Fitzgerald and is considering including an annuity in his contract that would become more valuable the longer he stays in the job.

The mayor said she thinks the significant increase in salary would reflect the importance of a job that calls for a leader who can address near-record violence in the city and the implementation of sweeping civil rights reforms mandated by a federal consent decree.

Pugh said a national policing organization that she consulted with recommended an even larger paycheck of $315,000. She rejected that as too high.

“We’re not going to break the bank here,” the mayor said.

A spokesman for the Fort Worth Police Department said Fitzgerald declined to comment.

Fitzgerald makes $205,000 in Fort Worth and has a $300 monthly car allowance, according to a copy of his agreement with that city.

That’s similar to what recent Baltimore police commissioners have made, although Texas has no state income tax, making his salary more valuable. Darryl De Sousa, the last permanent Baltimore police commissioner, had an annual salary of $210,000. His predecessor, Kevin Davis, earned $212,000 a year.

The city’s information technology director makes $250,000 and State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby earns $239,000. However, Fitzgerald’s salary would be less than that of the chief executive of the Baltimore public school system, who makes around $300,000, and it would be in line with what the Baltimore County police chief makes.

The mayor is scheduled to formally nominate Fitzgerald next week to the City Council, setting up a final vote by the end of January. The nomination needs a majority of the council’s 15 members to be approved.

Four council members have said this week they will be unwilling to vote in favor of Fitzgerald unless Pugh shares details of her vetting of his background.

Pugh said Wednesday she would share more information with the council as the process goes forward, and she said Thursday that will include material about Fitzgerald’s credit history and verification he filed tax returns. Failure to file such returns led to De Sousa being charged in federal court and resigning after a few months on the job.

But the mayor declined to discuss whether information about Fitzgerald’s personnel records and a report by a private investigation company would be included in the package for council members.

“We’ve done our due diligence,” Pugh said.

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