Updated: 1/9/2019 2:40pm
New Orleans police superintendent Michael Harrison has been picked to become Baltimore’s new police commissioner.
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh made the announcement on Tuesday after her previous choice, Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald withdrew himself for consideration. She cited Harrison’s record in crime reduction and recruitment, saying:
“Superintendent Harrison has achieved clear, compelling and consistent results in reducing violent crime, implementing a federally-mandated consent decree, increasing police recruitment, introducing advanced technologies, and deploying proactive and effective policing strategies that reflect 21st century, constitutional policing. He will bring not only significant and relevant experience to addressing the challenges of Baltimore, but the insight and sensitivity needed to reestablish essential trust and confidence of citizens in their police officers.”
Harrison will retire from the New Orleans police department in order to start his new position in Baltimore in a few weeks.
When he was originally named as a top candidate by the Baltimore Sun a month ago, Harrison had said he was not interested in leaving New Orleans:
“While I am humbled to be sought after to lead the Baltimore Police Department, I ultimately asked not to be considered for the position because of my commitment to achieving our goals at NOPD; which include reducing crime, improving community relations, and achieving substantial compliance with our federal consent decree,” Harrison told the Sun.
In a statement on Tuesday, Harrison said:
“Since my reappointment in May 2018, I have enjoyed the complete support of New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. For that, I wish to express my profound gratitude. From the time she was sworn in, she has provided us the necessary resources and support critical to carrying out our mission of reducing violent crime and implementing 21st-century policing reforms. To the citizens of New Orleans, I would like to say, serving as your police chief for the past four years has been the highest honor and privilege of my 28-year career with the New Orleans Police Department. This city and its people will forever hold a special place in my heart.”
It’s unclear what changed Harrison’s mind on making the move to Baltimore.
Mayor Cantrell’s office released a statement, saying:
“The progress the men and women of the NOPD have made towards reforming the department and achieving the goals of our consent decree has prepared Chief Harrison for this next step. We are approaching full compliance with the consent decree, and we stand ready to begin the next great era. It is a testament to the progress that’s been made that other jurisdictions have sought out our Chief. We wish him all the best going forward.”
Mayor Cantrell has said that she will announce the new police superintendent on Monday, Jan. 14. There will be no exploratory committee, and she will be hiring from inside the department. “The buck stops with me,” Cantrell stated.