Who is Richard Worley, the new acting Baltimore Police commissioner?

Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at The Baltimore Sun.

Mayor Brandon Scott nominated Richard Worley to replace Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, who said Thursday he plans to leave the agency this summer before his contract expires.

Worley will serve as the acting commissioner until the Baltimore City Council confirms a new leader. The 58-year-old worked his way up to second in command throughout 25 years at the department, becoming deputy commissioner of operations in September 2022.


Worley’s salary is $207,944, according to Baltimore Police, and he would likely get a raise if chosen as the permanent commissioner. Harrison’s salary was $287,540.

Harrison started training his command staff to prepare his successor the day he took office, Worley said. That mentorship led to many late night calls for Harrison’s advice over the past four years.


”It’s an honor to be standing here,” Worley said at a news conference announcing Harrison’s departure. “I’ve dedicated my life to service, to the city of Baltimore.”

A Baltimore native

Worley grew up in Baltimore’s Pigtown neighborhood and graduated in 1983 from Cardinal Gibbons High, a private Archdiocese of Baltimore school that has since closed. He received a degree in criminal justice at Oklahoma City University in 1987.

A standout high school baseball player, Worley continued to play third base and catcher throughout college. Oklahoma City University’s baseball stadium was unofficially called “The House Worley Built” in the 1980s because of his three-run homer in the ninth inning of the school’s first NCAA regional championship.

Worley had a brief career in the minor leagues, according to The Baltimore Sun’s archives. He worked for his family’s flooring business for 10 years until 1998 when the 34-year-old joined the Baltimore Police Department.

He is married with two kids.

A veteran officer

In his first four years on the force, Worley was a patrol officer in the Western District. He served in a variety of leadership positions on his ascent to the rank of major, including a shift sergeant on the Southwestern District’s midnight shift, a Northern District operations lieutenant in charge of undercover drug enforcement units and a captain overseeing the entire Northern Division. In 2012, Worley became a major in the Northeastern District, which at the time was the largest of the nine police districts.

In 2018, Worley was promoted to the rank of colonel as chief of patrol. It was his responsibility to create deployment plans in 2020 for mass protests following the murder of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. Some U.S. cities saw protests turn violent. Baltimore’s marches were peaceful.

Worley then acted as chief of detectives for a year, supervising the department’s homicide and robbery units, the special investigations section and the warrant apprehension task force before his promotion to deputy commissioner.

From left, Ken Thompson, lead monitor of the consent decree, Brandon Scott, mayor, and Richard Worley, deputy commissioner, stand at the scene of a police-involved shooting in which Baltimore Police state that a 17-year-old acting suspiciously was pursued and eventually shot May 11, 2023. Baltimore Sun Staff

Familiar face at news conferences

Worley has been a visible commander at news conferences over the decades. He’s stepped into the spotlight in recent weeks by speaking to the press in Harrison’s absence.

The deputy commissioner received backlash in May for his scant explanation of why officers suspected a 17-year-old was carrying a handgun. The teen ran from the officer, who chased and shot him from behind.

Worley said an officer had approached the teen because he believed the teen was “displaying characteristics of an armed person.” Worley would not elaborate on what such characteristics looked like. Residents of the Shipley Hill neighborhood rejected the description, saying the officer had been harassing the teen, who was critically injured.

Body camera footage appears to show the teen carrying and then dropping what Worley said was a handgun with an extended magazine at the time he was shot.

On Wednesday, Worley stood alongside other city agency heads and spoke at a news conference about the near drowning of a minor who jumped the fence of a closed pool at Roosevelt Park.

He’s applied for other police chief openings

Leading a police department has been an ambition of Worley’s since he became a captain, he said Thursday. But he didn’t expect to become commissioner in the department where he built his career.


Breaking News Alerts

As it happens

Be informed of breaking news as it happens and notified about other don't-miss content with our free news alerts.

“Most of the time you don’t become a commissioner in the city agency that you’ve come through,” Worley said. “I’m lucky enough to hopefully do that now.”

He was one of 44 candidates who applied in 2021 to become the next chief of the Austin Police Department in Texas. He didn’t get the job. The next year, Worley, then a colonel, made the short list of potential chiefs in the small town of Greeley City, Colorado. Another semifinalist was chosen.

As acting Baltimore Police commissioner, Worley plans to “continue what we’re doing,” under Harrison’s leadership, including building a group violence reduction strategy and reducing homicide rates.

Worley has also completed numerous law enforcement trainings, including a “senior management institute” with the Police Executive Research Forum.

Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington-based think tank, said he believes Harrison has built a management team that works well together. He expects Worley “take Baltimore to the next level.”

Worley has had the privilege of working under Harrison and understanding the challenges of a consent decree, Wexler said, calling it a “unique skill set.” He also has the additional benefit of already being known in the city, Wexler added.


Baltimore Sun Reporter Darcy Costello contributed to this article.