The city won’t say when former Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison gave notice of his intent to resign, adding to questions surrounding his abrupt departure.
According to Harrison’s contract, he was required to give 90 days written notice of his intent to resign. The Baltimore Banner requested a copy of that letter, and the city declined, saying it was a “personnel record.”
The city then refused to say when the letter was submitted.
“Just as we’re unable to release the letter itself, we’re unable to release details included in it at this time,” spokesman Bryan Doherty said in an email.
In response to follow-up questions about whether Harrison received a payout, as well as whether he was still on the payroll, the city also claimed an “HR or personnel” exemption.
Attempts to reach Harrison have been unsuccessful.
Little has been disclosed about the lead-up to Harrison’s departure. Less than two days prior to his resignation, on June 6, Harrison was pressed repeatedly by City Councilman Eric Costello at a budget hearing about whether he would serve out his five-year term, which was to end in March 2024. Harrison demurred, saying that he serves “at the pleasure of the mayor” and couldn’t answer the question because “I have to know where the mayor stands on that answer before I can actually answer the question.”
Costello repeated the question, which prompted Harrison to say that he had “said no to many opportunities that have come, but there may be a consideration that I may have to consider if it comes, if and when it comes, I may have to make that consideration.”
“I wanted to understand what his commitment to the city of Baltimore was,” Costello said, declining to elaborate on what prompted the line of questioning.
About 36 hours later, Mayor Brandon Scott announced that Harrison was stepping down and Deputy Commissioner Richard Worley was immediately taking over. Key staffers say word only started to trickle out Tuesday night, with others not finding out until the announcement was made.
Scott said he and Harrison had had “numerous conversations over the past few weeks” about the future of the department. “And over the course of those conversations, it became clear to both of us that this was the right time to make this transition,” the mayor said.
Harrison said he had no other job lined up and had not interviewed for any other positions, and that his priority was to “breathe” and spend time with family.
On Tuesday, Harrison’s wife made a cryptic post on her Instagram page showing Harrison looming over chess pieces.
“No caption necessary,” she wrote.
Harrison sent an internal video goodbye message, and an introductory video from Worley was also sent out to employees.
“I am here today to tell you that I believe in this department and the progress we are making,” Worley said in the video. “All of you are a huge part of the department’s continued success and you have my full support.”
Worley said in the video that he is “committed to reform, the crime fight, removing violent offenders from our communities and getting rid of illegal guns from our streets.”
In addition to affirming ongoing programs, such as the Group Violence Reduction Strategy, he said he is “determined to improve morale throughout the department.”
“It is my top priority to ensure that all of our members — both sworn and professional — feel valued and are given all the resources they need to do their jobs successfully and safely.”