Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison thins out command staff, reconfigures organization

New Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison announced Monday he was thinning out command staff and restructuring the department.

Harrison’s plan divides the department into four bureaus: Administration, Operations, and two newly formed bureaus of Compliance and Public Integrity. Each will be led by a deputy commissioner.

The new structure reduces the number of colonels from four to two and lieutenant colonel positions from seven to four.

“These moves are an important first step towards making the Baltimore Police Department a more efficient, effective and responsive organization. We simply had too many people in high-ranking positions without an appropriate span of control to justify their rank,” Harrison said in a statement. “Moving forward, I will continue to evaluate BPD’s structure and capacity. More changes will be necessary, but we have begun building an effective structure for the Department and putting the right people in the right places.”

Harrison has been interviewing the nearly 40 command staff members and has said he is actively looking to recruit candidates from outside the department to rebuild the department’s command staff. At least three jobs — chief financial officer, chief technology officer and police academy academic director — have been listed with national law enforcement groups.

Several high-ranking officials appointed under previous Commissioner Darryl De Sousa have left the department in recent weeks.

Andre Bonaparte, the former deputy commissioner of operations; Robert Smith, chief of special operations; and David Cali, the head of the Baltimore Police Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility recently left. Gary Tuggle, who previously served as interim commissioner, left the department after Harrison came to Baltimore.

Previously, the police department included a support services bureau that included community collaboration, science and management services, and recruitment. Acting Deputy Commissioner Melvin Russell oversaw the support services bureau. It’s unclear what his status is with the department. Russell declined to comment Monday.

There was also an operations bureau that included patrol, special operations like tactical and traffic, and criminal investigations. Bonaparte headed the bureau. A spokesman said the position has not yet been filled.

The Community Collaboration Division also will move under the Chief of Patrol’s office, where it will be led by Lt. Colonel Sheree Briscoe. She previously headed a neighborhood coordination program, which was also under patrol.

Jim Gillis, the previous chief of staff, will become the deputy commissioner of administration.

“Jim’s wide range of skills and experiences, his deep knowledge of the Baltimore Police Department, and his passion for making Baltimore a better and safer city lend themselves perfectly to the position of Deputy Commissioner of Administration,” Harrison said.

Harrison brought Eric Melancon, who was his chief of staff at the New Orleans Police Department to serve as his chief of staff in Baltimore. He started work in Baltimore on Monday.

Deputy Commissioner Danny Murphy, who will lead the newly created Compliance Bureau overseeing the consent decree reforms, began work last week. He, too, worked alongside Harrison at the New Orleans department.

“Eric and Danny were key members of my team that helped transform the New Orleans Police Department into a better run and nationally recognized organization have been successful in significantly reducing crime and improving NOPD’s relationship with residents,” Harrison said. “I have every expectation that they will help produce the same results here in Baltimore.”

Baltimore Police spokesman Matt Jablow declined to detail additional changes surrounding the colonels and lieutenant colonels.

According to recent data provided to the City Council, the department has four colonels and seven lieutenant colonels. A recent organizational chart identifies the lieutenant colonels as Briscoe; Margaret Barillaro, who oversees recruitment, training and officer wellness; Kevin Jones, Dion Hatchett and Robert Jackson, who serve in patrol; Donald Bauer of anti-crime and federal task forces; and LaTonya Lewis of operation services.

The colonels include Russell; Richard Worley of the neighborhood patrol division; Byron Conaway of the Criminal Investigation Division; and Robert Smith of the Special Operations Division.

Those in command staff whose positions are eliminated could leave the department or choose to stay but at a lower rank.

The new organizational structure will go into effect April 24.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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