Baltimore City Council delegation in Texas for closed-door meetings on police commissioner nominee

A delegation of four Baltimore City Council members and two staffers is in Texas for private meetings as part of the council’s vetting of police commissioner nominee Joel Fitzgerald.

The group arrived Sunday and returns late Tuesday.

Lester Davis, a spokesman for Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, said the delegation expects to meet with about 30 leaders of the community in Fort Worth, where Fitzgerald is chief of police. They will be a mix of critics and people who have worked closely with Fitzgerald, Davis said.

“The delegation is going with an open mind,” he said.

Davis declined to release the names of those the group plans to meet and there are no plans to record or broadcast the meetings. But Davis said the delegation will issue a written report before its first public hearing on Fitzgerald in Baltimore on Jan. 5.

“We’re going down there so we can authentically capture what their experiences have been with Mr. Fitzgerald,” Davis said.

He said that if the names were made public, the people’s impressions might be colored by discussions on social media or with reporters.

The delegation won’t meet with Fitzgerald.

Mayor Catherine Pugh faced criticism — including from some City Council members — for the secrecy surrounding her process of selecting Fitzgerald. Pugh this week described the process in more detail only after The Baltimore Sun confirmed key details about it.

Davis said the public should judge the council’s process by its report and that the delegation’s notes would be public records.

“The proof will be in the pudding,” he said.

Council Vice President Sharon Middleton, Executive Appointments Chairman Robert Stokes and Public Safety Chairman Brandon Scott form the delegation with Young, Davis and Michael Huber, another member of Young’s staff.

Travel for the six people cost $4,800, according to the council president’s office.

The City Council’s leadership has vowed intense scrutiny of Fitzgerald. He would take over at a time when the city faces high levels violence, and a department shaken by a corruption scandal and in the midst of sweeping civil rights reforms.

On Thursday, the council announced its plans for two days of hearings on the nomination. The Jan. 5 hearing will be an opportunity for members of the public to share their ideas. The second on Jan. 7 will give council members a chance to quiz Fitzgerald.

A final vote could come on either Jan. 14 or Jan. 28.

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