Harrison explains why he's leaving Baltimore Police, acting commissioner promises stability
By Mike Hellgren,2023-06-09
BALTIMORE -- Michael Harrison is stepping down following four years as Baltimore's police commissioner, one of the longest recent tenures .
He said the decision was a mutual one made by him and the mayor.
"This was the most opportune time for me to pass the torch, and the mayor shares that vision that this was the right time," Harrison said while flanked by the mayor and his successor, deputy commissioner Rich Worley.
Mayor Brandon Scott said both he and Harrison had been having conversations for weeks about Harrison's future.
"This was the right time to make this transition," the mayor said.
He did not provide details of Harrison's financial compensation or what would happen to the remainder of his contract, which runs through March 2024 and earns Harrison almost $300,000 annually.
Harrison agreed to assist in the transition.
"I have no job offers," he said. He added that he just needed time "to breathe."
Worley, a Baltimore native and 25-year veteran of the department, said he would largely keep the same strategy in place.
He called it "an honor to be standing here" and noted he dedicated his life to BPD and looked forward to "continuing that service."
The move came as a surprise to some on the city council, including public safety chair Mark Conway.
"It was certainly news to me just like everyone. I learned this morning with a brief conversation with the mayor," Conway told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren. "I think stability is important. The morale of the department is super important. Commissioner Worley had a strong reputation in the department . . . I hope that things go well with his leadership."
Council member Odette Ramos, who is also on the public safety committee, praised Worley and said she would vote to confirm him to get the job permanently.
"He knows the city like the back of his hand," she said.
Ramos also said she has been in touch with Harrison.
"He's my constituent. So, I did call him to check on him just to make sure he was doing OK because I don't know the ins and outs of what happened or if anything happened," she said,
Harrison's departure follows questioning at a city council hearing earlier this week, where he denied he was leaving to run another department.
Scott said he was pleased to offer the position to someone he has long worked with from within the department.
"It is clear that he is the right person to lead this department in the future," Scott said.
The police union tweeted in part, "We know… Worley and we communicate well with him. It is our desire to continue to do so and we hope that he focuses on retention and recruitment."
The mayor now has two critical public safety roles to fill permanently.
MONSE director Shantay Jackson who led holistic, community-based crime reduction efforts w ill leave later this month.