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People weigh in at Baltimore Police Commissioner public hearing

Posted at 11:23 PM, Jan 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-07 08:04:25-05

BALTIMORE — The overwhelming opinion was clear.

Mayor Catherine Pugh's choice to lead the city's police department is not who a packed council chambers wanted.

"I've walked the streets of Beijing, China; Santiago, Chile; Harare, Zimbabwe; New York, Las Vegas etc. I've felt safer in those cities than I do in Baltimore," one concerned resident said.

As the dangerous and violent perception shadows the city, people who live in Baltimore say the light shouldn't come from the mayor's pick, Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald.

"The power that you guys absolutely have is to not confirm this guy," another resident said referring to Fitzgerald.

The nomination process for Fitzgerald, who was supposed to be in the city for public hearings but canceled because of his son's surgery, is continuing.

RELATED: Public hearing on Fitzgerald to be held Saturday

With weeks before council teeters on whether to confirm Fitzgerald, faith in the Fort Worth top cop, says Councilman Zeke Cohen, is fading.

"We need him here. He needs to be able to answer to the public and so at this point, I think the people have spoken and I think it's going to be very challenging to get him confirmed," Cohen said.

On the heels of a more than 200-page report of city council's deep dive into Fitzgerald, Cohen says the city's next commissioner needs to have a vision, a mission, and a plan to turn the police department around.

And Cohen, who serves on the council's Executive Appointments Committee and wrote remarks on Saturday's hearing, says Baltimore must get this next commissioner choice right.

"It is just simply not clear to me that at this point and time Mr. Fitzgerald has eight votes and the clock is ticking and so he needs to be here. He needs to be engaging with the public, Cohen said.

There was another hearing with council and Fitzgerald. That hearing has been postponed.

Council has to decide whether to confirm Fitzgerald by January 28th.