BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A day after Mayor Catherine Pugh named her second pick for Baltimore Police Commissioner, WJZ is hearing from the potential new top cop.
New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison explained in interviews Wednesday why he’s leaving the department, where he’s worked for the last 27 years, to pursue what has been called the toughest policing job in America.
Harrison started in law enforcement as a street cop, then a narcotics detective, the Public Integrity Bureau, and finally, stepping into the role of superintendent in 2014.
“I’m the chief that they need,” said Harrison in 2014. “I’m the chief they want but I’m also the chief the cities need right now.”
With the office, he inherited a federal consent decree, low manpower, and low morale in the department.
Challenges he may also face in Baltimore if confirmed as commissioner.
“The new commissioner needs to reduce violent crime and enhance the trust of the department,” said public safety expert, Rob Weinhold. “If he can do that, he will be successful for a long period of time.”
Weinhold also pointed out that officers have a motivation problem.
“These officers, at this point, do not have the motivation that they need,” Weinhold said. “It does not mean they’re not motivated as individuals but they need the latitude to do their job to dramatically reduce violent crime and improve the quality of life. They’re not going to be able to do that without firm, stabilized leadership. I think Mr. Harrison will bring that to the table, and bring it very quickly.”
In a statement Tuesday, Harrison wrote: “my first priority will be to drive meaningful cultural change within the department such that not only is there a renewed sense of purpose and mission among those sworn to protect and serve but that citizens trust is restored to a new level that enables collaboration and confidence.”
Harrison’s last day with NOPD is Jan. 19 and Mayor Pugh said that at some point, he will be coming here to start getting to know people in the city.