By Tashi McQueen,
AFRO Political Writer,
In back-to-back confirmation hearings on Sept. 21, the Rules and Legislative Oversight Committee approved Acting Baltimore Police Commissioner Richard Worley and Acting Baltimore Fire Chief James Wallace.
“I have dedicated my life to serving Baltimore City Police Departments,” said Worley during the hearing. “I’m committed to working every day to ensure that the police department lives up to your aspirations.”
Worley’s confirmation hearing began at 5 p.m. and Wallace’s began around 9 p.m. The next step is the full council’s vote on the two nominees, which is expected to be on Oct. 2.
“At the end of the day, I’m asking for you to give me a partner that – I can depend on,” said Baltimore City’s States Attorney Ivan Bates.
Worley’s vision for the role includes prioritizing community policing, crime reduction, staffing retention and recruitment, consent decree implementations and boosting the morale of community members and Baltimore Police Department (BPD) staff.
Though the committee ultimately supported Worley, many community members who testified publicly urged the council to reject his nomination.
Daniel Burgess, a Brooklyn-Curtis Bay Community Advocate, particularly called for a change in the nomination process.
“The ask is that the resumes of applicants be submitted and made available to the public 30 days prior to the decision being made. It’s not that we don’t trust him– we don’t trust you,” Burgess told members of the Baltimore City Council.
“Why are we rushing a process that should be carefully decided? Why are we in such a hurry to make a drastic change for a city that has suffered so long? We’ve been suffering for decades, but we’ll make a decision in weeks. Let’s be realistic.”
Chairman Isaac ‘Yitzy’ Schleifer (D-District 5) let him know that the nomination process has time limits and law restrictions.
“When a mayor does make a nomination to the council, if there’s a small window in which the council has an opportunity to host hearings like this, we can’t go many months without engagement. Otherwise, the nomination becomes confirmed even without hearings,” said Schliefer. “The commissioner has made himself available and will continue to do so.”
Burgess insisted that the council work harder to get more communities involved.
After the hearings, Mayor Brandon M. Scott released a statement.
“I want to thank the City Council, particularly Chairman Isaac ‘Yitzy’ Schleifer and the rest of the Rules and Legislative Oversight Committee, for their thorough and thoughtful approach to these hearings,” he said. “I appreciate their support of these nominees for two critical public safety leadership positions and look forward to the full City Council vote and ultimately swearing in these two public servants to their new roles.”