Acting Police Commissioner Richard Worley said he learned leadership skills under the tutelage of previous police Commissioner Michael Harrison. Harrison’s tenure also ushered in financial incentives for his successor: a much higher starting salary for the city’s top cop and a clause that requires the city to pay out one-year of salary if the City Council refuses to confirm him for the position.

Next week the Board of Estimates will be asked to approve a three-year contract for Worley, who is scheduled to have a confirmation hearing before the City Council the following day. Worley’s contract calls for a starting salary of $285,000, which is also the amount the city would be required to pay him if he’s not confirmed.

Such a payout was opposed by then-City Councilman Brandon Scott at the time of Harrison’s selection. Now, his administration says, it’s just the norm.

The mayor’s office told The Sun that the contract “follows points of precedent that have now been set in previous commissioners’ contracts.” They added that Worley would be invited to stay on with the department if rejected as commissioner.

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Worley’s starting salary picks up where Harrison’s left off. But Harrison’s starting salary of $275,000 represented a sharp jump at the time, aimed at recruiting a commissioner from another city hailed in police leadership circles, especially as Baltimore reeled from the death of Freddie Gray in police custody and the scandal of the Gun Trace Task Force corruption case.

Worley is a Baltimore native and a 25-year veteran of the agency, qualities Scott has praised as positioning him well to steer the department.

Before Harrison, Darryl De Sousa had received a contract paying $210,000 annually. Kevin Davis was paid $200,000 and Anthony Batts, who was recruited from Oakland, received $190,000.

Worley’s three-year contract is a shorter term than previous commissioners received, and a City Hall spokesman did not immediately respond to questions regarding the length of the deal.

Harrison was appointed to a five-year term; De Sousa a four-year term; Davis a five-year term. Batts signed an eight-year contract.

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None served the duration of those contracts.

Worley’s contract includes clauses for being fired with or without cause. It also provides a monthly $1,000 housing allowance for up to six months until his existing home in Anne Arundel County is sold.

Justin Fenton is an investigative reporter for the Baltimore Banner. He previously spent 17 years at the Baltimore Sun, covering the criminal justice system. His book, "We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops and Corruption," was released by Random House in 2021 and became an HBO miniseries.

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