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Baltimore Councilman Eric Costello defends pressing then-police commissioner over future at budget hearing

WJZ Exclusive: Former Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison explains departure
WJZ Exclusive: Former Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison explains departure 08:22

BALTIMORE - In early June, Baltimore Council committee chair Eric Costello repeatedly asked during the police department's annual budget hearing if then-Commissioner Michael Harrison was on his way out.

Harrison told WJZ News in an exclusive interview on Wednesday that it wasn't an appropriate time to discuss his departure.

Even though he spoke with Mayor Brandon Scott weeks earlier about his resignation, and gave an appropriate 90 days notice, Harrison said he was still focused on leading the department in the right direction.

"That hearing was neither the place nor the time to announce my departure," Harrison said. "I answered it in the most delicate and diplomatic way possible. It would have created uncertainty about the department not knowing its future, and it would have made it inappropriate for me to preside over decisions, purchases, all of the day-to-day deployment situations.

"We had a plan, but that council meeting really turned things."

Costello questioned Harrison at the budget hearing about the rumors of the commissioner leaving.

Harrison had been linked to a job opening in Washington D.C.

"I am not going to Washington, DC," Harrison said at the budget hearing.

Costello said that each time he asked about the former commissioner's status, he "received an ambiguous response each time, at best."

The Chair of the Ways & Means Committee said it was his job to ask about the future of the police department.

"While the former Police Commissioner was busy looking for another job or seeking an exit strategy, I was busy doing the job I was elected to do," Costello said.

Costello continued to say the City Council is entitled to transparency from the mayor when it comes to public safety.

"Despite the ongoing rumors never being honestly addressed, the Council and the public had every right to know he had submitted his resignation, Costello said.

Harrison announced in a press conference on June 8 that he was stepping down from his role as Baltimore's top cop.

He told WJZ News that he wasn't forced to resign, and that it was his decision to leave based on the progress the department has made.

"I was convinced the time was now because, with this, you can only pass the torch when you are not in crisis," Harrison said. "This was the most opportune time to pass the torch."

Richard Worley has accepted the role on an interim status and has been endorsed by Mayor Scott and Harrison for the full-time vacancy.

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