When former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh tapped Michael Harrison to lead the Baltimore Police, she chose a chief whose experience centered on implementing reforms amid the violence of New Orleans.

Four years later, Mayor Brandon Scott has returned to a homegrown cop and native of Pigtown who spent his career patrolling the streets of Baltimore. The mayor has nominated Richard Worley as the next Baltimore Police commissioner. After a stint as a minor-league baseball player, Worley served more than two decades within the department, rising from patrol officer to deputy commissioner. He spent his first four years on patrol in the Western District, where he was later promoted to lieutenant and then major a year later.

“When I first started the job I was little older, I was 34. So when I first started my goal was to be a sergeant in five years and a lieutenant in 10. I didn’t really think much after that,” Worley, 58, said during the mayor’s news conference Thursday. “Then I became a captain and all of a sudden I wanted to move up and, eventually one day, I wanted to be the commissioner. What happens is most of the time you don’t become a commissioner in the agency that you come through. I’m lucky enough to hopefully do that now.”

The mayor held the news conference to announce Harrison was stepping down after four years as the city’s commissioner. Scott has tapped Worley as his successor, though the nomination requires City Council approval.

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Deputy Commissioner Richard Worley speaks at a press conference on May 11, 2023. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

“He is from Baltimore — albeit he went to an inferior high school, Cardinal Gibbons. He is from Baltimore, lived in the city. ... He’s someone that I’ve known for many years; he was my district commander when I was a councilperson,” Scott said.

When Scott represented Northeast Baltimore on the City Council, Worley served as police commander for the area. Worley later implemented the city’s deployment plans for protests over the killing of George Floyd.

Northeast Community Organization President Angie Winder said Worley seemed consistent and genuine with his engagement in her community. She said he would attend parent teacher association meetings at Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School and that he helped a citizen’s patrol group during a string of robberies near the school. Winder reconnected with Worley after a Mervo student, 17-year-old Jeremiah Brogden, was shot and killed in 2022.

“I basically wish him the very best and whatever I can do as a community leader to support him, that’s what I’m willing to do,” she said.

Within the department, Worley maintains a reputation as one of their own, a respected and seen-it-all officer who knows the streets of Baltimore. He takes over the force as the city records a decline in homicides (19%) and nonfatal shootings (8%) from this same time last year.

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In 2021, the Austin American-Statesman reported that Worley had applied to be the police chief of Austin, Texas, but he did not get the job.

Worley is married and has two children, and lives in Edgewater. In addition to his police work, Worley also runs a private security company, according to a disclosure form filed with the city. According to his LinkedIn profile, he’s been a Major League Baseball merchandise authenticator since August 2014.

The new commissioner’s sports background runs deep. In the 1980s, Worley was a star baseball player at Cardinal Gibbons and Oklahoma City University, where he graduated in 1987.

In a 1984 article in The Oklahoman, his coach called him “the natural” and Worley made the All-Midwestern City Conference team. According to his university, Worley went undrafted and signed a contract with the Baltimore Orioles. He worked for his family flooring company after his playing career ended and before becoming a police officer.

Deputy Commissioner Richard Worley, right, stands next to Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott as the mayor speaks at a press conference on May 11, 2023.
Deputy Commissioner Richard Worley, right, stands next to Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott as the mayor speaks at a press conference on May 11, 2023. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

On WBAL radio Thursday, City Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer expressed confidence in Worley.

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”Rich Worley is not someone who needs any transition. He knows the department inside and out,” Schleifer said.

The councilman said Worley enjoys the confidence of the rank and file. The Baltimore Police union has been outspoken in its criticism of Harrison in recent years. On Thursday, union leaders seized on the shake-up of the command.

“Today, FOP3 learned that PC Harrison will be leaving after 4 long years. The #1 responsibility of a PC is to protect its citizens from violent criminals today, tomorrow, and next week rather than to holistically plan for decades of social work. That is for others. How many have lost their lives from this failed approach? We know Acting PC Worley and we communicate well with him. It is our desire to continue to do so and we hope that he focuses on retention and recruitment because without those numbers increasing we can not fulfill our first priority to protect our citizens,” union leaders commented online.

While commander of the Northeast District, Worley would send out a community newsletter on the work of his officers. Joyce Green, the president of the Central District Community Relations Council, appreciated the updates.

“Richard is probably on the street as much as he can get out on the street,” Green said. “We need somebody from Baltimore who knows the city as a police commissioner, and who knows the police department.

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Reporters Justin Fenton, Pamela Wood, Adam Willis, Ben Conarck and Jasmine Vaughn-Hall contributed to this article.


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