By Sean Yoes, Baltimore AFRO Editor, [email protected]
After a little more than two months in the chair, Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa resigned this week in the wake of three federal misdemeanor charges of not filing income taxes in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
However, it seems abundantly clear to many that there is much more connected to De Sousa’s departure from the Baltimore Police Department (BPD), than taxes.
Baltimore AFRO reporter Stephen Janis writes this week:
“WBAL-TV reported May 15 that federal prosecutors had issued subpoenas to the city finance department for records related to De Sousa’s work history going back almost a decade. The documents sought pay stubs, travel records, personnel files and internal investigations…There are concerns that the subpoenas coupled with the motions filed by prosecutors stating that De Sousa was under investigation for other federal crimes, is a sign of other charges are forthcoming. Particularly since the prosecutors handling De Sousa’s case are the same duo that brought down the Gun Trace Task Force.”
Ultimately, whether the 30 year veteran of the BPD was forced to resign because of taxes, or something far more insidious, the bottom line is De Sousa, the eighth BPD commissioner in 18 years, is out.
Erricka Bridgeford, the leader and co-founder of the Baltimore Ceasefire 365, the grassroots anti-violence movement, is not happy about De Sousa’s exit.
“I’m disappointed that the commissioner resigned. In relation to your job: I don’t care if you are unorganized in your own finances. It’s not my business if you cheat on your wife. When you show up at work, how well do you do your job? That’s what I care about,” wrote Bridgeford in a Facebook post on May 16.
“I want a world where our current system of policing is dismantled and rebuilt, based on “power with” the community. But, in the meantime, we need people in BPD who really do their best, given the effed up system.”
Some may disagree with Bridgeford’s assertion that she doesn’t “care if you are unorganized in your own finances.” And they may take issue with her not caring whether or not the police commissioner, or any other public servant, cheats on their spouse. But, I would take issue with anybody who doesn’t believe Baltimore’s criminal justice system and specifically, the Baltimore Police Department is “effed up.” And I think there is consensus that we want our leaders to “do their best.” And Bridgeford believes De Sousa was doing his best confronted with a dire situation within the BPD and our city.
“Up close, I saw what Darryl De Sousa was doing. I saw him be more transparent with grassroots leaders than any previous commissioner. I saw him work with grassroots leaders to help keep people from getting killed, in some of Baltimore’s darkest hours in the last month. I saw him care about Baltimore, not just with his words, but with his actions. I saw him be open to feedback. I saw him be responsive to residents and help with things they needed,” Bridgeford added.
“Nobody is perfect. If the places I fail in my personal life ever became public information, people would be out here hunting for my head…regardless of how good I am at what I do. I’m not saying I agree with De Sousa’s every strategy…because I disagree with a lot of policing strategies. But, given what the policing system currently is, the man was doing his best. He was someone I trusted in that position.”
And I trust Bridgeford’s opinion and her leadership on this and she’s not the only person whose opinion I trust who backs the former commissioner.
Baltimore took a big loss this week, now that De Sousa is out of the chair.
Sean Yoes is the Baltimore editor of the AFRO and host and executive producer of the AFRO First Edition, which airs Monday and Friday at 5 p.m. on the AFRO’s Facebook page.