Baltimore officials on Monday introduced their new acting police commissioner who said that he will stand by his officers but vowed also to clean up corruption in the department.
“It’s an honor. It’s a privilege. I’ve enjoyed a 28-year career in law enforcement and now this is the evolution of my career. The next chapter in my professional and my personal life,” acting Commissioner Michael Harrison told reporters after Mayor Catherine Pugh introduced him.
Harrison, who was previously the police superintendent for New Orleans, didn’t share any details about his plan to tackle the huge challenges he faces in the Baltimore Police Department, the Baltimore Sun noted. But he planned to get acquainted with community stakeholders and the roughly 2,000 officers under his command.
It’s unclear how long the honeymoon period will last. Harrison warned his officers that he has “no tolerance for corruption.”
He comes to a department that’s under scrutiny by the federal government. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice closed a probe prompted by the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray. It concluded Baltimore police officers regularly violate the constitutional rights of Black residents through the use of excessive force, unlawful searches and arrests, and racial discrimination.
As for corruption, the department has a bad reputation. For example, in 2016 federal prosecutors charged seven Baltimore police officers for racketeering crimes including stealing money from civilians. Several admitted drug dealers have testified at trials against the city’s officers.
Harrison, 49, has called for an effective internal affairs division in the Baltimore Police Department. He has lots of experience investigating cops. Harrison served for almost a decade in the New Orleans Police Department’s Public Integrity Bureau.
Harrison also comes to the job with experience overseeing a department under a federal consent decree like Baltimore.
Baltimore, which has been dubbed the most dangerous big city in America, has had three police commissioners in three years. The previous one, Darryl De Sousa, resigned in May after five months on the job because federal prosecutors in Maryland charged him with willfully failing to file income tax returns for 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Pugh planned to submit his name to the City Council on Monday night, according to The Sun. Councilmembers are expected to give their approval.