The resignation of the Baltimore Police Commissioner, charged by federal prosecutors for failing to file federal tax returns, has sparked fierce public debate over how the issue has been handled and the mayor’s credibility.
The 53-year-old commissioner, Darryl De Sousa, left the office after a mere four months into the job. De Sousa was suspended last Friday after a federal investigation revealed that he had willfully failed to file federal tax returns for 2013, 2014 and 2015. Charged with misdemeanors, De Sousa is looking at maximum of up to one year in prison and a $25,000 fine for each of the three years when he didn’t file.
On Tuesday, Baltimore Mayor, Catherine E. Pugh, confirmed the resignation in a statement, where she wanted “to reassure all Baltimoreans that this development in no way alters our strategic efforts to reduce crime by addressing its root causes in our most neglected neighborhoods.” A new interim police commissioner was appointed to cover the position while the city searches for a permanent replacement.
My statement on the resignation of Commissioner De Sousa pic.twitter.com/RwAbO6GUZT
— Mayor Catherine Pugh (@MayorPugh50) May 15, 2018
When the news about De Sousa’s tax affairs broke last week, the former police commissioner issued a statement, where he admitted that there was “no excuse” for failing “to fulfill obligations as a citizen and public official.” He explained the only reason he could give for his unpardonable misdemeanor was failure “to sufficiently prioritize personal affairs”.
My statement: pic.twitter.com/1DCD2v4dFF
— Darryl De Sousa (@Darryl_De_Sousa) May 10, 2018
However, despite the ex-commissioner’s own admission of the wrongdoing, Mayor Catherine E. Pugh initially decided to place him on suspension with pay instead of firing him. In her statement issued on May 11 she praised De Sousa for implementing “innovative crime disruption” and for being an “effective leader of the Police Department”.
Mayor Pugh’s Statement on Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa pic.twitter.com/4zTe7vLWkd
— Mayor Catherine Pugh (@MayorPugh50) May 11, 2018
The day before that the Baltimore Mayor backed De Sousa, claiming that “he made a mistake” in not filing his taxes, while she added that she had “full confidence in him and his capacity as Commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department.” Pugh’s stance prompted serious concerns about the city mayor’s credibility and her decision to let the Baltimore’s police force be led by a person under federal prosecution.
After federal charges were unsealed, there was harsh criticism of both De Sousa and Mayor Pugh, who was slammed for her poor judgement calls. “You can also blame the city council. They selected him without properly vetting him,” said one of the users.
How can someone be vetted for a high position without knowing that he didn’t pay taxes??? Seems to do a good job. Now, scrutiny will find little things that they might have missed before. Good Luck!
— Bob Buchanan (@wtsailor) May 12, 2018
Some of the outraged Twitter users suggested that, after this failure, the Mayor should think about quitting as well.
That has to be one of the most nonsensical statements ever made. A response for the betterment of Baltimore would be “The Police Commisioner has resigned due to his poor judgement, and I, lacking good judgement as evidenced by my decisions, also resign.
— Jeff Huddleston (@jeffhudd58) May 15, 2018