Joel Fitzgerald is finished as a suitable candidate to be Baltimore’s next police commissioner. The last thing that a police department desperately in need of reform needs is a person with a reputation as a liar. The department needs someone who is a role model for honesty and integrity.
I will start with the following observation: Lying was an essential ingredient in the formula that produced the corruption and unconstitutional policing that destroyed the Baltimore Police Department as an effective law enforcement agency. Lying by commanders and supervisors about the actions of their subordinates. Lying by rank-and-file officers to supervisors and internal affairs investigators about the actions of their peers. Lying about overtime.
Then of course there was the lying on arrest warrants and search warrants. Lying on police reports and lying in court. Lying, lying and more lying. It seems to be a police department full of liars. How do you change a culture of lying by putting an alleged liar in charge?
The long road back to respectability and public confidence for the BPD requires a police commissioner whose reputation for truthfulness is beyond reproach. The citizens must be able to trust that, whatever happens in the department, they are getting the unvarnished truth from the commissioner. I don’t know how a commissioner who apparently shaded the truth to get the job could possibly fulfill that requirement.
If reports in the media are correct, the Fort Worth, Texas police chief was guilty of grossly inflating his resume. According to those reports, at least two of the claims were outright misrepresentations of the facts: Mr. Fitzgerald’s claim that he initiated “the largest active Body Worn Camera program in Texas” while chief of the Fort Worth police department and “the first active Body Camera program in Pennsylvania” while chief of the Allentown police department.
It doesn’t matter whether these putative achievements were relevant to Fitzgerald’s selection. It matters whether he told the truth about them.
To make matters worse, Mr. Fitzgerald initially resisted public disclosure of his resume. In retrospect, one could conclude that he was concerned about what scrutiny of that resume would reveal. Is the city really going to hire a commissioner who apparently tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the mayor and city council about his achievements?
If Diogenes held a lantern to the face of Mr. Fitzgerald, what would he see? For one thing, I doubt that he would see the face of the next Baltimore police commissioner. I expect Mr. Fitzgerald’s name to be withdrawn from consideration by the close of business on Monday. What a sad, sad chain of events for the City of Baltimore.