BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore City Council voted unanimously Monday to confirm Michael Harrison as the city’s new police commissioner, formally putting him in command of a deeply troubled police force.
Harrison, 49, became acting commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department last month. He said he’s eager to help transform a police department that is distrusted by many citizens.
He was chosen to lead the city’s fractured force after Mayor Catherine Pugh’s first choice withdrew his nomination earlier this year. He becomes the fourth police leader in Baltimore since Pugh took office in 2016, and his arrival comes amid high expectations in a crime-weary city.
The Baltimore Sun reported that Harrison’s selection capped a 10-month process to fill the spot. It began when the previous permanent commissioner, Darryl De Sousa, resigned because of multiple federal tax charges. DeSouza has since pleaded guilty.
Harrison is scheduled to be sworn in Tuesday at City Hall.
Baltimore has recently led all big U.S. cities in violent crime statistics and its force has been riddled with corruption. But the police leader with a proven track record and a reputation for being fair and inclusive said he plans to methodically improve the image of a department and boost its effectiveness in swatting down crime.
He has said identifying people who have the capacity to lead while holding the department accountable at every level – from patrol officers to top command staff – will be crucial to improving the country’s eighth-largest municipal force.
Harrison is the former leader of the New Orleans police department. He helped New Orleans’ formerly scandal-plagued force implement consent decree reforms after becoming superintendent there in 2014.