Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison is among three law enforcement leaders serving on the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ “Police Reform and Racial Justice Working Group,” formed in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
“The nation’s mayors are committed to dismantling the systemic racism that exists in our country, said the organization’s president, Bryan K. Barnett, who is also the Mayor of Rochester Hills, Michigan, in a statement this week announcing the task force that will focus on reforming policing and racial justice issues.
“The recent killings of innocent black people have highlighted once again that there is much work to do with revising and improving the policies and practices of our police departments. We must do better, and we must start this work immediately," Barnett said.
Floyd died late last month after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes as he cried out in pain. The arrest was captured on video and has sparked nationwide protests and demands for policing reforms.
Harrison was brought to Baltimore as a reform leader, hired in 2019 to help institute sweeping police reforms mandated by a federal consent decree after heading the New Orleans Police Department while it was in the midst of a similar consent decree.
In an interview Wednesday with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Harrison said the task force will work with the mayors and subject-matter experts to develop reforms that can be adopted nationwide.
“Here in Baltimore we are in year three of our consent decree, which is the most extensive, the most comprehensive," he said. “Much of what people are marching for, protesting for, and begging for and demanding, we are already doing here” and other cities under consent decrees.
“What we saw in the video was disgusting and shocking to the conscience. This does not represent the calling of our officers to serve and protect with dignity and respect,” Harrison said in a statement.
During recent demonstrations in Baltimore, Harrison met with protesters and even joined marchers in taking a knee.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors’ task force will include mayors of Chicago, Tampa, Florida, and Cincinnati, and police chiefs from Phoenix and Columbia, South Carolina, and Charles Ramsey, who is an adviser to the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Ramsey is also a member of the Baltimore consent decree monitoring team, which is helping the department implement the federally mandated reforms. He previously headed the Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., police departments.