Public Safety & Policing
In the course of more than three decades in law enforcement, Michael Harrison, the Commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department, has had to navigate a wide array of challenges. After joining the New Orleans Police Department in 1991, he gradually climbed through the ranks of the organization before becoming the department’s Superintendent in 2014. In that role, Harrison helped the agency navigate a federal consent decree at a time when the Department of Justice had referred to the organization as “the most troubled department in America.” Then, in 2019, he became the Commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department, which was also operating under a federal consent decree but represented a very different type of challenge. Whereas he had been an internal candidate in New Orleans who had to lead transformation among longtime colleagues, he was now “the outsider” in Baltimore who was being brought in and had to build trust to effect change in a broken system. Across these experiences, Harrison observed a “tug of war” in policing in which leaders have to navigate a variety of competing forces involving community groups; local, state, and federal elected officials; department personnel and unions; and a range of priorities. At the <strong>2022 Public Safety Summit: Leading into the Emerging Future</strong>, Harrison identified a series of strategies involving a leader’s mindset, external stakeholder relationships, and department culture that one can use to manage these difficult dynamics and effect positive, sustainable change.