Announcing yet another departure of high-level staff from his administration, Mayor Brandon Scott today confirmed the rumors that have been swirling about Police Commissioner Michael Harrison for days.
Scott said he and Harrison agreed that it was time for the commissioner to leave after four and a half years on the job – or 10 months before his contract with the city ends in March 2024.
Scott nominated Deputy Commissioner of Operations Richard Worley, an insider with 25 years at the BPD, to take his place.
Harrison will leave, at a still undetermined date, amid continuing public anxiety about violence that has remained high in the city – with homicides and shootings spiking lately among teenagers – and as Scott plans to ask a jittery electorate to reward him with a second term.
At a City Hall news conference, the 54-year-old Harrison described his tenure as demonstrating “significant progress and great resiliency in the midst of significant challenges” and said he leaves behind “a world-class department.”
Before the hastily assembled media gaggle, Harrison and Scott both sought to describe his departure as part of a succession plan.
“He’s someone I’ve had the privilege of working side by side with – leading mentoring, coaching, grooming,” Harrison said, referring to Worley. “I have sent him and others to the best leadership schools in this country to prepare him for this day.”
Scott continued on the same theme when asked by a reporter why he was changing commissioners now.
“This has always been his [Harrison’s] intention. That we’re building from within, and we’re providing that ability to grow from within,” said Scott, declaring that the two agreed in “conversations over the past few weeks” that the time for the transition was right.
“Accessible” to Worley
Starting today, Worley will serve as acting police commissioner until he goes through the confirmation process conducted by the City Council.
Harrison, who officials said will be leaving sometime this summer, promised to remain “accessible” to the new command staff.
Asked what he plans to do next, Harrison said, “I have no job offers. I have not interviewed for any jobs.”
“The first thing is for me is to breathe,” he continued. “The second thing is to make sure I’m here to help the new police commissioner get acclimated.”
“The first thing is for me is to breathe. The second thing is to make sure I’m here to help the new police commissioner” – Michael Harrison.
“I will also spend some very valuable time with family. I just don’t get to do that with living more than 1,200 miles away,” the New Orleans native said.
He had been the superintendent of that city’s police department in 2019 when then-Mayor Catherine Pugh tapped him for the job.
Talk of Harrison’s departure from Baltimore surfaced on June 1 after a Washington Times article said he was one several people interviewed for a job as The District’s top cop.
“Let me look you in the eye – I am not going to Washington D.C.,” Harrison told WBAL NewsRadio’s T.J. Smith two days ago, allowing as how “the juice is in the tank” for other future opportunities.
At a City Council hearing on the BPD’s budget on Tuesday, Harrison was grilled about whether he planned to leave his position before his contract expires next spring.
The issue became a flashpoint when Councilman Eric Costello stalked out of the hearing, expressing frustration with Harrison’s answers to his repeated questions. Council President Nick Mosby followed suit.
Before departing, Costello got this answer from Harrison:
“I will tell you that I have said no to many opportunities that have come. But there may be a consideration that I may have to consider. If and when it comes, I’ll make that consideration.”
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