Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison is stepping down from his position, and Mayor Brandon Scott will nominate Rich Worley as interim commissioner and intends to nominate him to the position permanently. Harrison has led the department through federal reforms for the last four years, but his tenure was marred by high levels of gun violence and staffing issues. Mayor Scott and Harrison had “numerous conversations” about the future of the department, leading to the decision. Harrison, who previously led the New Orleans Police Department, helped shepherd that department through a federal consent decree and brought stability to the top position in the Baltimore Police Department after four commissioners in less than four years.
Following The Baltimore Banner, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison is stepping down from his position. Harrison has led the department through federal reforms for the last four years, but his tenure has been marred by stubbornly high levels of gun violence and staffing issues.
At a news conference at City Hall on Thursday morning, Mayor Brandon Scott announced that he will nominate Rich Worley, currently the deputy commissioner for operations, as interim BPD commissioner and intends to nominate him to the position permanently. Scott said that he and Harrison have had “numerous conversations over the past few weeks” about the future of the department and that “it became clear to both of us that this was the right time to make this transition.”
Harrison said that now is the opportune time for him to pass the torch. “I have been truly blessed to serve the city of Baltimore and receive the support and confidence of the men and women of this department, our elected leaders and the great people of Baltimore,” he said, adding that he has no job offers. “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 get acclimated to the work,” he said.
The mayor added that when he first met Harrison, the police official pledged to leave this department better than he found it and find his replacement from within BPD. Harrison, 54, who has held the post since 2019, had faced intensifying rumors and questions that he would depart for another job — which he denied — and refused to commit to staying through his term when pressed during a city council budget hearing earlier this week.
Harrison brought stability to the top position in the Police Department after the city went through four commissioners in less than four years. He previously led the New Orleans Police Department, where he helped shepherd that department through a federal consent decree. He would repeat the process in Baltimore, earning a national reputation as a police leader who leaned into reforms and emphasized community policing.
But stubbornly high rates of violent crime often clouded Harrison’s message about the Baltimore Police Department, which he lately has marketed as “the greatest comeback story in America.” Harrison’s departure comes as Shantay Jackson, director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, is also leaving her position.
As the city searches for a new police commissioner, it remains to be seen what kind of leader will step into the role and what changes they will bring to the department. One thing is for certain, however: Baltimore will need a strong and effective leader to continue the work of reforming the police department and reducing gun violence in the city.