FORT WORTH, Texas — Multiple sources have confirmed that Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald is leaving the department, heading to Baltimore as the next police commissioner there.
Baltimore Mayor's press secretary said Chief Joel Fitzgerald has accepted the police commissioner job, and they expect him to start shortly after Thanksgiving.
According to sources, Fitzgerald has not attended several high profile police events during the past month and showed up to the office only sporadically. WFAA noticed he was absent from the hugely important pension discussion at the Fort Worth City Council on Tuesday night.
Not long ago, background investigators acting on Baltimore's behalf were in town vetting Fitzgerald.
A Friday statement from the Fort Worth city manager reads:
"The City Manager has been notified that Chief Joel Fitzgerald is the final candidate for the Baltimore police Commissioner position. Chief Fitzgerald is currently in discussions with city officials in Baltimore. at this time, Chief Fitzgerald has not submitted a formal letter of resignation. we will provide any updates as they become available."
Fitzgerald has faced a lot of criticism in his short time in Fort Worth, including the handling of the Jacqueline Craig and Officer William Martin case. The family filed a lawsuit alleging that their constitutional rights were violated during the arrest.
In May, Fort Worth reached a $210,000 settlement in the 2015 accidental police shooting of a mentally challenged man. Fitzgerald fired Officer Courtney Johnson involved in the incident even after a jury didn't convict him. Sources said many felt he was making up for not firing William Martin.
Last month, it became clear that Fitzgerald was searching for a new job, and multiple source said he had zeroed in on the troubled commissioner role in Baltimore as his next gig.
Chief Fitzgerald was one of the driving forces behind starting discussions on Fort Worth's race and culture task force, which many felt was long overdue in our city. Other officers told WFAA that they feel relieved Chief Fitzgerald is leaving. They said morale had declined since the chief took over in October 2015.
It was speculated on Friday that Assistant Chief Ed Kraus, a longtime department veteran, would be the front runner for the interim chief job.