The Baltimore Police Department may be facing an uphill battle to achieve reforms now that its Black commissioner left his position Tuesday after just four months.
Darryl De Sousa, 53, was forced to quit this week after federal prosecutors in Maryland charged him with failing to file income taxes from 2013-2015, The New York Times reported. Though he was only in the position for a few months, De Sousa had already made significant headway in leading the beleaguered department that is beset with difficulties.
Baltimore has the nation’s highest big-city murder rate, and the department has struggled with corruption, abusive practices and the aftermath of Freddie Gray‘s death in April 2015. Under De Sousa’s leadership, crime rates, particularly homicide, decreased in the predominantly Black city. Homicides were down 27 percent from last year and non-fatal shootings were down 23 percent, according to city data cited by the Baltimore Sun last month.
With his departure, the city has lost its third commissioner in three years. The timing of De Sousa’s exit is also important as the department is one year into a court-ordered consent decree.
Considering that reforms have been a central area of concern, De Sousa’s hiring was looked at as a remedial measure. Though he had a short tenure, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh defended De Sousa and his record this week.
Pugh has launched a search to find the next police commissioner, she said in a press release. As of now, Gary Tuggle, a Baltimore native, former city police officer and ex-Drug Enforcement Administration official who De Sousa approved as the department’s deputy commissioner of strategic and support services in March, has been appointed as interim commissioner.