Michael Harrison was formally sworn in as Baltimore’s 41st police commissioner Tuesday morning.
“Having had a wonderful career in New Orleans, I thought I was just in my career there. God had bigger things for me to do. I’m humbled, I’m honored, excited to have this wonderful opportunity given to me by Mayor [Catherine] Pugh,” Harrison said at the brief ceremony in the formal Ceremonial Room at City Hall.
Harrison was joined by his wife, C.C. Harrison, and his mother.
The former New Orleans Police Superintendent won unanimous support from the City Council, which confirmed his appointment the night before.
Harrison said he’s dedicated to helping the mayor “accomplish her vision of creating a safe city, reforming a police department that’s in need of reform, and turning Baltimore into the city it should have always been and what it needs to be right now — the greatest city in America.”
He’s faced with tackling the city’s high crime while simultaneously reforming the department under a court-ordered consent decree.
After reciting the oath, Harrison signed his name in blue ink under the signatures of the city’s previous commissioners — Darryl De Sousa, Kevin Davis\ and Anthony Batts. All three of their terms were to have continued through Tuesday’s date, but each commissioner left their term earlier, signaling the difficult job ahead of Harrison.
De Sousa resigned in May after federal authorities charged him with failing to file his tax returns for three years. Pugh fired Kevin Davis in January after the city passed 300 homicides for the third year in a row. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had fired Anthony Batts in July 2015 amid the backlash over the death of Freddie Gray and the riots, and as homicides began to spike.
In his brief remarks, Harrison promised to the rank-and-file officers, “to not let you down.” To the city’s residents, he said he is already working toward change.
He assured: “I am the person to lead this police department.”