Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Baltimore’s police commissioner job, citing an outpouring of support from Fort Worth residents and colleagues and a family medical emergency.
He did so in a series of tweets Monday on the Fort Worth Police Department Twitter account.
Fitzgerald said the decision to withdraw from the Baltimore process was prompted by the tremendous outpouring of support he received from the Fort Worth community. He also wants to spend more time with his 13-year-old son, who is having a second brain surgery Tuesday after an initial surgery Friday, according to police.
“Our community communicated this to me, even before this medical emergency occurred with my son, but it was reinforced thereafter knowing there was a possibility I could leave,” the statement said. “Their support never wavered and may have intensified.
“There is literally nowhere I go in this city of almost 900,000 residents where someone doesn’t approach me to say first, ‘Hey Chief, your Eagles stink, and by the way, you’re still needed and loved here in Fort Worth.’ I will now focus on my child’s next bout of brain surgery, and being home with family, my Fort Worth Police Department family ... and this awesome community.”
Monday morning an email went out to police department employees announcing that the chief had withdrawn his name from consideration for the Baltimore job.
Baltimore’s Mayor Catherine Pugh released a statement of her own moments before Fitzgerald’s statement, saying that she respected his decision to withdraw his name from consideration in order to devote his attention to his son. Pugh said she and Fitzgerald discussed the recent medical issues concerning his son and the upcoming surgery to remove a mass that was discovered late last week.
“Our fervent prayers are with him and his family during what is unquestionably a troubling and stressful period for them,” Pugh’s statement said. “In the meantime, Interim Commissioner Gary Tuggle is on the job and very ably managing the day-to-day affairs of the Baltimore Police Department, along with his command staff. I will, of course, be communicating further on the process to select Baltimore’s permanent Police Commissioner.”
Fitzgerald was scheduled to undergo a confirmation hearing where he would have been asked questions by members of the Baltimore City Council. A hearing last Monday was postponed because of the family emergency.
The NAACP requested this past week that the mayor’s nomination be withdrawn after The Baltimore Sun found that Fitzgerald overstated some of his accomplishments in Allentown and Fort Worth on his résumé.