Howard County Council Chairman Calvin Ball, who helped broker Fitzgerald’s resignation, addressing the media over the sheriff’s resignation o, Tuesday
The Republican governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, Tuesday, demanded the resignation of Howard County sheriff, Jim Fitzgerald over allegations of racism and bigotry.
Fitzgerald who has been called the “poster child for bigotry” will leave office on Saturday and soon retire, the county’s council chairman said in a statement Tuesday.
The resignation of the county’s top lawman comes amidst allegations of racism and retaliation against political opponents in the department.
The allegations came to a head last month after the Howard County Office of Human Rights released a report of a year-long investigation of allegations of abuse and discrimination filed by a deputy. The report found that the sheriff had discriminated against those who opposed his election.
The report said 69-year-old Fitzgerald went beyond shifting assignments to benefit those who supported him and berating those who didn’t, he was accused of “using racial epithets and slurs towards employees, colleagues, citizens and other government officials who are female, black, gay, Asian or Jewish.”
The report detailed accusations that Fitzgerald used racist and foul language and systematically retaliated against some employees while promoting others who supported him.
The damning human rights report, the result of an investigation of official complaints, noted that sheriff Fitzgerald repeatedly used the n-word, referenced watermelon to black officers and said “The [African-American deputies] are not too smart, but they get the job done”.
In one instance, investigators also said that the Democrat called a former county official “Little Kenny Jew boy.”
In his own defense, Fitzgerald describes himself as just “a loud New Yorker,” to investigators has apologized for the atmosphere caused by the accusations. However, he did not apologize for his actions.
Howard County Council Chairman Calvin Ball helped broker Fitzgerald’s resignation, says he didn’t discuss the nature of the accusations with the sheriff, but decided to make a personal appeal to the sheriff reminding him that stepping down was the best course of action: “I think it was less important to hear reasons or excuses and more important to help move forward,”
Howard county citizens call for Fitzgerald’s resignation after the release of a report from the county’s office of human rights
The Human Rights report came after a complaint from former Lt. Charles Gable, who said he had no choice but to leave his job because of the environment where Fitzgerald had “become the poster child for bigotry, bullying and temper tantrums.” The outcome sparked an increasing wave of protests against Fitzgerald, a democrat, from a broad spectrum of county citizens. Officials from both parties, as well, called for the lawman to step down came.
An agreement expected to be signed by Fitzgerald on Tuesday says that Gable will get his job back and receive more than $58,000 in back pay.
Fitzgerald himself is not receiving any financial payment as part of the agreement to resign, though he will have some sort of pension benefit.
The office of Gov. Hogan, who called for the sheriff Fitzgerald to resign earlier in the morning, will oversee the task of filling the vacuum.