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Interim Baltimore police commissioner doesn’t want the job; search begins for 4th person to hold position this year

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Jessica Anderson
The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore’s interim police commissioner — the third person to hold the top post this year — has withdrawn from consideration for the permanent job, the city solicitor told a judge this morning.

Gary Tuggle voluntarily pulled his application, City Solicitor Andre Davis said Tuesday morning at a quarterly hearing in U.S. District Court for the consent decree.

Davis told U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar that the city is still on track to name a new police commissioner by the end of the month.

The selection process has been kept under wraps so far. Davis said more than 50 applications have been received, and a panel of three law enforcement experts from around the country are helping in the search.

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis was fired in January. His replacement, agency veteran Darryl De Sousa, lasted just a few months before he was charged with federal tax charges and resigned. Tuggle, a former DEA special agent in charge who De Sousa recruited to be one of his deputies, ascended to the interim spot.

Baltimore is in the midst of its deadliest 30-day stretch since 2015, with 43 people killed in the past month. And there continues to be internal upheaval: last week, a top commander resigned in lieu of termination after slamming a chair into a wall during a meeting with Tuggle’s chief of staff, and a rookie officer was terminated after being found drunk on the job while working a daytime overtime shift. Another officer is slated to stand trial this week for an assault.

Col. Perry Standfield, who resigned after the heated meeting, told The Sun that the department needed to be rebuilt. Standfield is a 30-year veteran who was brought back by De Sousa.

“The internal operations are out of order and there are numerous problems out on the street. The BPD needs help,” he said.

Councilman Brandon Scott, the chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said he didn’t think Tuggle had enough support from council members to secure the job even had he been nominated by the mayor.

“I don’t think the majority of the council members would have voted to confirm him,” Scott said. “He didn’t seem like he had the relationships and the wherewithal to garner the support.”

Scott said Tuggle was well suited to the deputy commissioner job he was hired for, but that his experience in the federal government, where the pace of work is slower, left him unprepared to meet the crisis facing the city.

It’s not clear when Tuggle withdrew his name from consideration. He spent the weekend in Orlando, Fla., at the International Association of Chiefs of Police meeting.

Tuggle, a Baltimore native and former Baltimore police officer, joined the DEA in 1992 and rose through the ranks to leadership positions in Baltimore, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington.

He served as assistant special agent in charge of the agency’s Baltimore office from 2013 to 2015, overseeing its investigation into the looting of large amounts of pharmaceutical drugs from pharmacies during the 2015 unrest. He subsequently led the DEA’s Philadelphia office.

He is a graduate of Coppin State University and holds a business degree and a master’s degree in government, with a concentration in national security studies, from the Johns Hopkins University.

Very little is publicly known about who is in the running for the police commissioner job, with City Hall insiders and outside policing experts alike saying in recent days that they had not heard names of candidates. Mayor Catherine Pugh has said a seven-member commission was aiding in the search, but Andre Davis told the Baltimore Sun that there was no formal body involved that would be subject to open meetings or public information laws.

Lester Davis, a spokesman for Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, said that once a name is put forward the council will carefully evaluate the nominee and would be willing to reject a candidate who didn’t measure up.

“It’s a tipping point for Baltimore,” Davis said. “The council’s going to do its best to properly weigh that candidate.”

This article will be updated.

Baltimore Sun reporters Justin Fenton and Ian Duncan contributed to this article.

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©2018 The Baltimore Sun

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