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Harrison in Baltimore, says he is "excited" to get started

Harrison held his first community meeting Thursday evening
Posted at 4:56 PM, Jan 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-25 17:31:29-05

BALTIMORE — Commissioner-designate Michael Harrison says he is in the process of finding a new home here in Charm City.

"So we flew in this week and we have been trying to find a place to live and we are trying to wrap all that up so I can hit the ground running," Harrison said in a brief interview with WMAR 2-News Brian Kuebler outside city hall Friday.

Arguably, that process started Thursday night with a meeting of about 15 handpicked community leaders. It was at city hall and Harrison's first and he says he enjoyed the opportunity.

"The community meeting was great,” Harrison said, “People from all walks of life, every part of the community. Very productive meeting and I look forward to meeting with them again and I look forward to talking and listening to all the citizens of Baltimore and so, we're excited."

Mayor Catherine Pugh’s office says Harrison will have plenty of opportunities with a total of ten meetings. There will be one in each police district and a final citywide meeting at the war memorial building, all of them public, but the one Thursday night was not.

"It is early to make any kind of an assessment but I think he seems like, ya know, kind of a natural leader," said participant David Troy.

Troy was one of just a few community members selected for last night's meeting. He says Harrison and the group talked about hiring and firing, state versus city control of the department and changing the culture of the Baltimore Police Department.

"I mean he came across as very straight forward, a warm character. He was very confident about his ability to affect change in Baltimore based on his experiences in New Orleans."

Even though the meeting was not publicized, Baltimore Councilman Brandon Scott is on board but wants the schedule of the public meetings next month. Scott says considering the Fitzgerald roll out, community input is key.

"Yeah I think this is a great thing. I think that having him go and meet the people and be out in all the nine police districts, hearing their concerns, hearing what they want from their police leader and their police department is a great thing," Scott said.

A schedule of the public meetings was handed out at last night's meeting, but the mayor's office says it is not finalized.
There will be ten in total and they will start on February 14.

Confirmation hearings are not expected to begin until March, but city hall says Harrison will assume the acting commissioner role as soon as early next month.