In a recent statement, Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald explained his decision to withdraw his candidacy for the top cop position in Baltimore and to remain here in Cowtown. Seems us locals admire Fitzgerald so dang much, he decided to stick around and soak up the love. Part of his decision to stay involved his teenage son who’s battling health problems requiring brain surgery, but the love of the common people also played a factor, Fitzgerald said.
“The decision to withdraw from the Baltimore process came down to this: I reflected upon the tremendous outpouring of heartfelt support I received here in Fort Worth over the last few months,” Fitzgerald wrote. “Our community communicated this to me, even before this medical emergency occurred with my son, but was reinforced thereafter knowing there was a possibility I could leave. Their support never wavered and may have intensified.”
Yep, we love us some Fitz.
“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 … 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.”
We wish Fitzgerald’s son the best of luck with his surgery and recuperation, and we’re happy the chief feels so beloved around these parts. But forgive us if we don’t get too weepy. It seems pretty clear that Fitzgerald wants out of Fort Worth, and we won’t be surprised if he’s applying for other jobs once his family situation resolves.
Fitzgerald, a Philadelphia native, became a cop on his hometown police force in 1992 and served 17 years there before heading to Texas. This was in 2009, when the little suburb of Houston known as Missouri City hired him as chief. Four years later, Fitzgerald headed back to Pennsylvania and became police chief in Allentown but didn’t stay long.
In 2015, he moved back to Texas to become top cop in Fort Worth, one of the fastest growing large cities in the country.
It didn’t take long for the chief to become antsy again. In 2018, he sought to become police chief in Baltimore. That city wasn’t home but was awfully close ––– about 100 miles from Philly. Seems Fitzgerald had met the mayor of Baltimore at a conference early last year and was soon being recruited as the new chief. In October, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh announced Fitzgerald as the top candidate. The following month, a headline in The Dallas Morning News blared, “Fort Worth Chief Joel Fitzgerald Headed to Baltimore.”
While awaiting confirmation, the chief’s future began to cloud. On January 3, The Baltimore Sun accused him of padding his resume, saying Fitzgerald claimed to have drastically reduced crime in Fort Worth (questionable) while initiating the largest body camera program in Texas (nope). The newspaper cited other questionable claims regarding his stint in Allentown. That prompted the NAACP to call for Pugh to rescind Fitzgerald’s nomination, citing “the multiple and serious questions” about his record.
Pugh didn’t have to rescind anything. Fitzgerald spiked himself, saying he needed to stay in Fort Worth to handle a family medical emergency. That left the city of Baltimore wondering how a painstaking months-long hiring process ended with such a kerplunk. Pugh didn’t waste any tears or time going to Plan B. The next day, she selected New Orleans police commissioner Michael Harrison as her new nominee for the Baltimore position.
As for us,