It probably got lost in the news of who else is going to Baltimore (we’ll miss you, Mark Ingram), but the path from New Orleans is starting to look pretty well-beaten.
Two months after Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh hired away well-regarded police superintendent Michael Harrison — and days after that’s city’s council made the offer official — Harrison announced that two of his former civilian aides are to join him. Heading to Baltimore are NOPD Deputy Chief of Staff Eric Melancon, who will become Harrison’s chief of staff, and Deputy Chief for Compliance Danny Murphy, who will play a big part in overseeing a consent decree aimed at addressing discriminatory and abusive practices and similar to the one New Orleans entered at the start of the Mitch Landrieu administration.
“Both men are talented, innovative, hard-working public servants who played major roles in reforming the New Orleans Police Department and successfully implementing the New Orleans consent decree,” Harrison said in a statement, according to the Baltimore Sun. “I am looking forward to working with them again to improve BPD, reduce crime and rebuild our relationships with the community.”
The possibility of significant departures had been widely rumored, and these may not be the only moves. It comes as Baltimore’s struggles were featured in a wrenching New York Times Magazine piece recently, which pegged violent crime there as the highest in a quarter century.
“In 2017, it recorded 342 murders — its highest per-capita rate ever, more than double Chicago’s, far higher than any other city of 500,000 or more residents and, astonishingly, a larger absolute number of killings than in New York, a city 14 times as populous,” the Times story said.
Harrison won high praise for helping New Orleans turn things around, although it has not yet been released from its own consent decree. This latest report from Baltimore tells him something he surely already knows: In his new job, he’ll need all the help he can get.