Two weeks after former Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison announced his abrupt resignation, he remains on the city payroll. And City Hall won’t say why.
Mayor Brandon Scott’s administration won’t disclose the terms of Harrison’s separation. The mayor’s director of communications, Bryan Doherty, has repeatedly declined to provide any resignation letter from the commissioner or even the date of any such letter.
Did Harrison resign? Or did the mayor tell Harrison to leave?
On Wednesday, only after The Baltimore Banner’s attorney stepped in did City Hall disclose something: Harrison remains on the payroll.
That raises another question: for how long?
“Because Mr. Harrison is still on the City’s payroll, any records pertaining to a tentative last date of employment would be considered personnel records, which the custodian is required to protect,” Deputy Solicitor Stephen Salsbury wrote in response to a request under the Maryland Public Information Act.
Plenty of questions remain about Harrison’s resignation. He was supposed to serve until March 2024 under a five-year contract that pays him $275,000 a year.
Under the terms of the contract, the mayor could dismiss Harrison without cause at any time, but the city would be required to pay Harrison for the remainder of the five years or until he gets a new job. The contract also requires Harrison to give 90 days’ written notice if he chooses to resign before the five years conclude.
The contract could also be amended if both sides agree to the changes.
The former superintendent of New Orleans, Harrison, 54, led the Baltimore Police for four years before announcing his resignation June 8. The mayor immediately named Deputy Commissioner Richard Worley as his pick for the city’s next top cop.
In the days leading to his announcement, speculation swirled about Harrison’s future in Baltimore. The commissioner was repeatedly asked if he had applied to be chief of Washington, D.C., but he maintained “no.”
Two days before the announcement, City Councilman Eric Costello asked Harrison at a public meeting if he would serve out his full contract.
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.”
Later, Costello declined to reveal what prompted his line of questioning.
“I wanted to understand what his commitment to the city of Baltimore was,” Costello said.
It all came to a head on the morning of June 8. The mayor called a news conference, and Harrison announced that he was stepping down.
Harrison said that he had no other job and had not interviewed anywhere, but that his priority was to “breathe” and spend time with his family. Harrison has not granted interviews since.
Last week, an Instagram post from Harrison’s wife inspired more speculation. The image shows Harrison’s face with a slight smile above chess pieces.
“No caption needed,” she wrote.
Reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.