In recent years, as Northern District police commanders came and went and as community leaders and residents complained about a revolving door in the district's leadership, there was one constant: Deputy Major Richard Worley.
As Northern's second-in-command, Worley was at times the glue that held the district command together in times of transitions, mostly due to promotions.
Now, it's Worley in command, but not at the Northern District. The 48-year-old Worley, who used to work as a floorer and didn't become a police officer until age 34, was introduced to the public Saturday as new commander of the neighboring Northeastern District. He succeeds Darryl DeSousa, the commander since 2008, who was promoted to Area I commander, in charge of all eastern police districts in Baltimore, including the Northern.
Worley's deputy commander is Capt. Osborne Robinson, known as Mo.
At a meet-and-greet at Northeastern headquarters, 1900 Argonne Drive near Morgan State University, Worley told an audience of about 50 people, including City Council members Mary Pat Clarke and Joseph Curran, Jr., that he has no immediate plans to make big changes in a district where homicides have dropped by 27 percent and shootings by 22 percent in the past year, according to DeSousa.
Worley said his philosophy is, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
He also said he wants more community policing, not only to get officers more involved, but residents, too, and that he hopes to increase the number of officers on bicycles, saying he rode a bike for two years in the Northern District.
"You are the eyes and ears of us," he said. "We're going to get you guys involved more and make your voices heard."
Worley also said he wants to continue working closely with Tapp-Harper to reduce crime on the border of the Northern, Northeastern and Eastern districts.
"The patch on your arm doesn't say Northern or Northeastern, it says Baltimore," he told residents.
Worley came to the Northern District in June 2008 as a lieutenant and was deputy major for the past 3 1/2 years, most recently under Major Sabrina Tapp-Harper. He was well-respected in north Baltimore, often appearing at community groups such as the Roland Park Civic League to update residents on crime statistics and to try to calm fears as he did late last year during a spate of break-ins in Roland Park. It was Worley in January 2010 who addressed angry Guilford residents after a neighbor was abducted, locked in the trunk of his car and forced to withdraw money from ATM machines along York Road.
"I'm extremely excited to be here," Worley told the Northeastern District crowd. "This is the chance I've been waiting for."
He warned residents that he is not a morning person and prefers to work late at night and early in the morning. He also expressed frustration to the Messenger that as "a perfectionist," he doesn't yet know Northeastern district as well as he knew the Northern, and that he has ended up in Baltimore County several times by mistake while driving
Worley got congratulations and promises of support from residents like Rodney Burris, of Richnor Springs on the York Road corridor. Burris said said he wants to work with Worley and Robinson to try to get high school and college students more interested in police work.
Resident Ken Desmarais of the Northwood neighborhood invited Worley and other police officers to "crash" at his house in the early morning if they need to.
"Take a couple of hours and go take a nap," he said.