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Crime & Justiceby Mark Reutter6:45 pmMay 10, 20180

Mayor Pugh backs De Sousa, won’t ask for his resignation

He made a mistake, the mayor says. Police union tonight calls on De Sousa to take a leave of absence, effective immediately.

Above: Mayor Catherine Pugh has steadfastly emphasized her violence reduction strategies rather than address federal actions against the Gun Trace Task Force and other BPD corruption. (Fern Shen)

Mayor Catherine Pugh says she has “full confidence” in Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa, who was accused by federal prosecutors today of failing to file three years of tax returns.

“As Commissioner De Sousa has explained, he made a mistake in not filing his taxes for the years in question,” the mayor said in a statement released tonight from City Hall.

“He is working to resolve this matter and has assured me that he will do so as quickly as possible,” she said, adding:

“I have full confidence in Darryl De Sousa in his capacity as Commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department and trust that he will continue to focus on our number one priority of reducing violence.”

Probe of De Sousa is Ongoing

In filing tax charges against De Sousa, federal prosecutors said today that they are investigating “additional violations of federal criminal law” by Baltimore’s police commissioner.

As a result, prosecutors asked the court to seal the criminal information regarding De Sousa’s failure to file tax returns in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

De Sousa was appointed Baltimore’s top-ranking cop in January after Pugh fired Kevin Davis for not quelling Baltimore’s record-high homicide rate.

It is unclear how the charges will impact on De Sousa’s ability to run a department that is under a U.S. Department of Justice consent decree.

Or how De Sousa and other BPD brass will interact in the future with the Baltimore office of the FBI, which is leading the investigation of the commissioner.

Typically, a BPD officer charged with a misdemeanor is suspended with pay – but without “police powers” – until the charges are resolved.

Without “police powers” means an officer stripped of his gun and without the power to arrest, swear out warrants or act as an officer of the court – basically reducing the officer to a regular citizen.

Union to De Sousa: Take a Leave

Tonight, Gene Ryan, president of the Baltimore FOP Lodge No. 3, called on De Sousa to take a leave of absence, effective immediately.

“The commissioner is well aware of departmental policies as they relate to any criminal conduct committed by our members, and we have every right to expect that he be treated the same as the men and women who serve him,” Ryan said.

“While Mayor Pugh has determined that it is not in the interest of the City to ask for his resignation, we feel very strongly that it is in the interest of the Baltimore Police Department to ask that Commissioner De Sousa relieve himself of this duties, effective immediately, until this matter is resolved.”

Rubber stamped by Council

On his twitter site, De Sousa apologized for not filing the tax returns, but gave no indication that he would step down as commissioner, accept a suspension or take a leave of absence.

Pugh’s statement of “full confidence” indicates that De Sousa has the political cover, at least for now, to stay on as commissioner.

The 53-year-old was appointed Baltimore’s top-ranking cop in January after Pugh fired Kevin Davis for not quelling Baltimore’s record-high homicide rate.

De Sousa’s confirmation sped through the City Council last February, with the Council’s executive appointments chairman, Robert Stokes, openly scoffing at questions raised by citizens about De Sousa’s past, including his fatal 1995 shooting of Garrett “Scooter” Jackson.

De Sousa was confirmed the appointment in a 14-1 vote, with Councilman Ryan Dorsey (3rd) the only dissenter.

Today Stokes and other Council members said they still had confidence in the commissioner.

More:

Amid scandal and distrust, De Sousa nomination moves forward (2/22/18)
Baltimore’s police commissioner charged with failure to file taxes (5/10/18)
De Sousa admits he didn’t file tax returns (5/10/18)

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