Editor’s note: The following commentary aired on wbal.com on January 11, 2019.
Baltimore received some good news on the crime front this week. First, Mayor Catherine Pugh tapped Michael Harrison, the current police chief for New Orleans, to be the city’s next police commissioner.
Right now, all signs point to Chief Harrison as a good fit for Baltimore’s top cop position.
Fortunately, on a recent trip to New Orleans I had the pleasure to hear Chief Harrison discuss his work in public safety. I was impressed by his efforts to bring about transformational change to the police department. He worked to eliminate corruption, set measurable goals and tracked them, improved and enhanced technology, established community relationships, engaged the business community, managed a federal Consent Decree, reduced homicides, and earned confidence as a respected leader.
He provides the promise of solid leadership in the Baltimore Police Department.
Governor Hogan also delivered good news in announcing a number of new programs, including the creation of a strike force, comprised of 200 federal and state law enforcement officers targeting gangs in Baltimore and the expansion of Project Exile, a program in which serious criminal cases are prosecuted in federal court rather than state courts.
Combined, the Governor’s announcement and the Mayor’s nomination of Chief Harrison provide much needed wind in Baltimore’s sails as it works to reduce homicides and other violent crime.
Business and community leaders as well as city residents should be prepared to support Chief Harrison and the Governor’s plan. Collectively, we must lend our voices to lift the cloud of violent crime that’s been holding Baltimore back.
I’m Don Fry, President & CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee.